Only a Teacher - classroom

Click on the links below to view video clips from Episode 3, (uses Real Player plug-in).

Science Teacher Pat Sandoval on Motivating Students
Assimilating the Indian
The Brown Decision
100 years of discrimination
English Teacher Alex White on Urban Academy
An Urban Academy Class in Action
It's Never Too Late
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 Three: Educating to End Inequity

"I think the students' participation in the running of the school here and their sense of ownership of their education is a vital component to the success they experience. They really feel like their doing it themselves. We help them, we give them the tools to educate themselves, not just in the context of the classroom, but in life." -- Alex White, Urban Academy

Alex White gave up a high-powered job with MTV to become a teacher. After visiting every public high school in Manhattan, the only place that he could imagine working was Urban Academy. Following his intern teaching at Urban Academy, Alex says, he just refused to leave. Alex's colleagues share his enthusiasm -- and his sense of purpose. Urban Academy looks and feels like few other schools. Beyond co-directors, the school has no administrators and no hierarchy. Urban is a mini-democracy and a carefully nurtured community. The teachers hope their students will take the lessons of Urban Academy out into the world with them.

Since the mid-1800s, we have looked to schools to do the job no other American institution could be asked to do: to make all of the nation's children productive, useful citizens. Schools have been expected to assimilate Native Americans, to Americanize immigrants, to achieve racial equality and to level economic differences. In every case, on the front lines stands the teacher.

Episode Three, "Teaching to Change," examines teachers' roles in defining and sustaining local communities and our national democracy. Teachers do not ask for these responsibilities. But they must accept them. Episode Three explores the ways enormous social concerns color teachers' work every day.

We learn about Elaine Goodale, a New England idealist in the 1880s, who fought the practice of taking Sioux children from their families and putting them in boarding schools. Her own educational vision, while more benign, would raise eyebrows today.

We meet Pat Sandoval, a Native American teacher today, who tells her students about both the chemical properties of salt and the cultural significance of the mythical Pueblo Salt Woman. Pat knows her students live in two worlds and she must accommodate both.

We hear from Kat Crosby, a principal who in the 1970s took a marginalized black school in Charlotte and after desegregation transformed it into a school that all students -- African-American and white alike -- bragged about. Today, she just wishes integration had been as successful as desegregation.

We get to know Alex White, Phyllis Tashlik and Terri Grasso, teachers at a second chance alternative school in New York City, who believe their students, despite prior failures, can succeed academically -- and personally. Ninety-five percent of all Urban Academy's students go on to college.

About the Series | Timeline | Pioneers | Closeup | Show & Tell | Teachers Today
Screensaver | Online Resources | Professional Development
Purchase Video | Feedback | Credits

alex white