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Click on the links below to view video clips from Episode 1, (uses Real Player plug-in).

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Teacher Dean Eastman at Work
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Teachers as Missionaries
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The Feminization of Teaching
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Justifying Female Teachers
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Teaching and Upward Mobility
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Interview, Frank McCourt
Only A Teacher
About The Series
About the Series
episode1: A Teacher Affects Eternity
episode2: Those Who Can... Teach
episode3: Educating to End Inequity

Episode One: A Teacher Affects Eternity

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." -- Henry Adams

Dean Eastman teaches social studies in a school with one of the highest drop-out rates in Massachusetts. It's Eastman's job to give the kids a reason to stay in school. More important, it's his job to get them engaged in their studies and in the world around them. It's hard work, with no guarantees. Dean Eastman loves being a teacher.

Dean Eastman stands in a long line of dedicated and creative teachers. Episode One, "A Teacher Affects Eternity," highlights the work of teachers, and their importance to their students, over the course of nearly 200 years. This hour explores the multiple roles teachers play in the classroom: academic guide, moral exemplar, personal mentor and agent for social progress.

"A Teacher Affects Eternity" takes us back to the Common School Era in the 19th century to look at the forces that shaped our expectations for teachers. It also gives us the voices of teachers today as they confront many of the same issues that affected their predecessors. We hear from pioneer schoolmarms Arozina Perkins and Irene Hardy, who found themselves among the new ranks of idealistic women teachers determined to elevate their students. Their contemporary counterpart, second-grade teacher Brian Sheehy, still sees himself as a moral preceptor for his students.

We're introduced to Laura Towne and Charlotte Forten, two Civil War-era teachers, one white, one African-American, who ventured south to teach newly freed slaves and bring them into the American mainstream. Today, Aurora Fleming, a middle school science teacher, recognizes that her job still carries ethical and democratic resonances.

We meet Julia Richman and Marian Dogherty, who helped their immigrant students navigate their new country at the turn of the century. And we learn from Julia Luna, a Chicano Studies teacher, what she hopes to give her Latino students today.

All of these teachers have made a difference in the lives of children, and in the life of our country. We've expected them to responsible for the intellectual, emotional and social growth of the students in their care. "A Teacher Affects Eternity" explores how we arrived at those expectations and what they mean for teachers today.




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