CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Adrienne Bankert, Emmy award-winning veteran journalist and Morning in America host, is invested in telling stories of real people from all walks of life — and all parts of the nation.
Her career as a broadcast journalist has taken her all over the country — from her first news job in Sacramento to Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and now Chicago. From packed stadiums to celebrity interviews to the smallest towns, Adrienne said it’s all about finding common ground.
But Bankert, who grew up in a town of about 1,000 people, has her eyes set on the everyday people and places important to your community.
Morning in America will highlight the main streets in America in the new series AB on Main, an intersection of conversation for how America can move forward. Adrienne set out to visit main streets across the country to listen to everyday people’s voices, concerns and perspectives.
The first stop was Adrienne’s hometown of Sheridan, California. The rural community is surrounded by sun-drenched fields, and it’s about 40 minutes and a world away from Sacramento.
Adrienne still keeps in touch with her first-grade teacher, Laurel Etchepare, who recently retired after 40 years at Sheridan Elementary School, where Adrienne attended kindergarten through sixth grade.
“You were very studious, academically top of the class. You were never in any sort of trouble,” Etchepare recalled.
Today, 70% of students at Sheridan Elementary School are considered low-income. So when classes went virtual during the pandemic, coronavirus grants were used to get hotspots and computers to families who couldn’t afford them.
Adrienne asked Etchepare how teachers keep the love of learning, especially with all the pressures on us in our families, in our communities. Etchepare replied, “I always say you have to look at the actual child, at what they need, what works for them.”
Meanwhile, firefighters are another group that has had to adapt to changing conditions.
There have been more fires in California in the past 18 months — it’s been a never-ending onslaught of natural disasters.
“So it’s just tapping our resources; seems to me it’s getting hotter, it’s getting drier,” said Sacramento Fire Department Captain Jeff Vargas.
But it’s not just wildfires that are becoming a more significant issue.
“We have seen quite an uptick in a lot of calls dealing with mental health, so it’s been really hard,” said Patrick Norville, a Sacramento Fire Department engineer.
Adrienne asked Vargas and Norville what the country could learn from firefighters.
Norville replied, “You’ve got to be others-centered, others-focused.”
“Keep your nose to the grindstone. Love your family, love your friends. Keep grinding,” Vargas replied.
While visiting Sheridan, Adrienne ran into her childhood friend April’s dad, who she calls Mr. Bradley.
“When you were young, I remember you and your mom and your brothers and sisters all walking to school as I was going to work,” he recalled.
“All of them like little ducks, right?” Adrienne said, laughing.
“Every day,” Bradley replied.
“There’s seven of us, too. We do look like little ducks,” Adrienne said.
While reminiscing about old times, they also discussed how the nation could build a brighter future.
“People need to get together more and have more community involvement like when you were growing up,” Bradley said. “Your family was a tight-knit family. I don’t see that anymore.”
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“I’m just tired of the politics, man, let’s get our country back together,” one resident chimed in. “Get rid of all that stupid Democrat and Republican crap and make them Americans for a change.”
They both have hope better days are coming.
“I feel it coming. I think we hit bottom, and I think we’re gonna come back strong,” Bradley said. “I think we are gonna make it back. I really have good hope.”