Educating the world’s girls and women is one of the best social development investments to be made. But despite gains in access to education, keeping girls in school remains a struggle in the developing world.
What started with a case of job burnout and a much needed backpacking trip to Nepal for John Wood, soon evolved into a highly effective non-profit organization focused on literacy and gender equality in education in the developing world.
After a chance visit to a school in the Himalayas, Wood was shocked to discover that the few precious books the school owned were locked up in order to protect them from the students. Dismayed by this lack of access, John reacted by collecting over 3,000 book donations and returned the following year, with eight book-bearing donkeys in tow. It was the reaction of the children that spurred John to then leave the corporate world and create Room to Read in 1999, with the mission to build schools and establish libraries in these underdeveloped areas.
In the PBS documentaryHalf the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, audiences meet an array of individuals who battle against the various social issues that plague women and girls in developing countries. The poor living conditions and lack of opportunity found in countries such as Kenya, Cambodia, and India are met with the fierce resilience of aid organizations, such as Room to Read, who are unwilling to surrender to the brutal and unyielding cycle of poverty. Continue reading →
Nationwide, 7,000 students drop out every school day, but new evidence suggests that the make-or-break moment for high school dropouts may actually occur in middle school. FRONTLINE examines one Bronx school’s unique approach in A Middle School Moment.
A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.
Celebrity documentaries don’t have to be brainless. Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service compiled a list of the top ten performer documentaries, including such classics as the Bob Dylan film Don’t Look Back and Madonna: Truth or Dare. (via POV)
If you’re wondering where the inventive imagery of Beasts of the Southern Wild came from, check out the director Behn Zeitlin’s first animated short, the bizarre and fascinating Egg, based on Moby-Dick.
Finally, a level-headed examination of what it takes for a professional film to succeed on the web from Short of the Week: “Cat videos and bad web series are not your competition. Your real competition is the 5,000 other dramas shot with shallow depth-of-field and digital effects that go up every week.” Continue reading →
ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary American Promise by filmmakers Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster.
American Promise is an intimate look at the 12-year journey of two African-American boys on the path to success at a prestigious prep school. This personal film explores the distinct and troubling growing pains young men of color experience, navigating internal and external cultural stereotypes.
The film sheds light on the universal struggle families and schools confront when addressing issues of identity and opportunity. This inspiring story about pursuing the American dream sparks a critical conversation about the complex factors that influence academic development and unspoken social and emotional needs that play an integral role in every child’s well-being.
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ITVS’s Community Classroom, along with over 150 Bay Area educators, gathered at Laney College for KQED’s town hall meeting about the dropout crisis.
Panelists included educators Cesar Cruz of ARISE High School, Dr. Kimberly Mayfield of Holy Names University, Dave Orphal of Skyline High School, Josue Diaz Jr. of Oakland Tech, and Betsy Shulz of Emiliano Zapata Street Academy.
Here are some startling facts:
Every year, roughly 1.3 million students in the U.S. drop out of high school. That’s 7,000 students each day.
More than 20 percent of California high school students drop out of school before graduation*
In the City of Oakland, almost 40 percent of students don’t graduate*
ITVS Community Classroom attended the March 13th event at Laney College, sitting in an auditorium filled with passionate teachers, present to talk about the growing dropout crisis in American education. It is hard to grab headlines with this story in a news environment already saturated with reports about the sad state of the public education system in this country. But with their American Graduate initiative, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is keeping the conversation alive. KQED is one of 20 “hub” public media radio and television stations across the country that CPB tapped to host public forums about the crisis. Continue reading →
The ITVS-funded documentary To Be Heard looks at a unique poetry class in the Bronx for at-risk youth where anything can be said or shared. The film was produced and directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura, Amy Sultan, Deborah Shaffer, and Eddie Martinez – a combination of seasoned filmmakers, educators, and instructors in the Power Writers program. ITVS’s Kate Sullivan Green spoke with all four about their nearly seven-year journey of making the film, the importance of literacy, and their online companion, Power Poetry. To Be Heard is playing in January on public television. Additional online-only content will accompany the film in the months ahead.
This past month, over 100 media-savy educators attended the first Bay Area Media Innovators in Education event in San Francisco. The event was co-hosted by ITVS, KQED, BAVC, and the San Francisco Film Society.
At a time when school budgets are tight, it is rare for teachers to get treated to wine, gourmet treats, and free media content. But ITVS and four other leading Bay Area media organizations decided they deserved some pampering and inspiration.
This past month, over 100 media savvy educators attended the first Bay Area Media Innovators in Education event at the Lab art space, co-hosted by ITVS, KQED, BAVC and the San Francisco Film Society. The event was a showcase for educational resources from each organization, and featured a panel discussion with four teachers who are using media creatively to engage their students. Continue reading →
The program, which aired on Tavis Smiley Reports, examines one of the most disturbing aspects of the education crisis facing America today — the increased dropout rate among Black teenage males. The broadcast is currently streaming on PBS.org a part of American Graduate, a public media initiative supported by CPB to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis.
In this episode of Tavis Smiley Reports, Tavis travels across the country, speaking to education experts, as well as to the teenagers themselves about the challenges they face and how education can be redirected to address their needs.He profiles individuals who are making a difference in the lives of young Black males and looks at the schools that are best serving them. Continue reading →
Last month, Community Classroom unveiled the winner of the Best. Teacher. Ever! Contest: Negussie Tirfessa, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Manchester Community College. As a followup, we asked Independent Lens viewer Cordelia Vahadji to interview her nominee, so that we could discover what makes this educator so inspirational to his students, and that physics is fun.
Dr. Negussie Tirfessa, Ph.D., Best Teacher Ever!
Dr. Tirfessa was born in Ethiopia. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Physics at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He taught Physics at the same university for six years and came to the U.S. to study at Ohio State University in 1995. Dr. Tirfessa graduated with Ph.D. degree in Theoretical Nuclear Physics in 2001 and joined MCC as an instructor of Physics in January 2002. He currently lives in Manchester, CT with his wife and two children.
Cordelia Vahadji attended Smith College, majoring in biology. She completed internships at Smith, Yale, Princeton, the NIH, and the Association for Women in Science, as well as an NSF teaching fellowship. She worked as a molecular biologist at Johns Hopkins. Recently she has switched her career focus to mechanical engineering. Continue reading →