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A Tale of Two Schools Bearden Elementary Walton Elementary
The Documentary The Challenge Get Involved
Meet the PeopleWhere Are They Now?
Jim Barksdale (Video) Jim Barksdale, Former CEO of Netscape

Things are starting to look up for Bearden Elementary, thanks to people like Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape and former COO of FedEx. Barksdale and his wife, Sally, have pledged $100 Million to help the weakest schools in their state and formed The Barksdale Reading Institute. Bearden will receive $200,000 of that pledge for books, supplies, and materials. Click here to read an extended interview with Jim Barksdale.

Reggie Barnes (Video) Reggie Barnes, Superintendent

With the closing of two area libraries, Superintendent Reggie Barnes feels as if he and his staff are on their own. Through a dissolved marriage and even an ulcer, Barnes has worked day and night to turn his school district around. Now with the Barskdale grant, a committed staff, and a new reading program, it looks as if change is on the horizon.

Howard Hollins (Video) Howard Hollins, Deputy Superintendent

When Reggie Barnes decides he's had enough, Howard Hollins steps in to take on this very tough job. The school year is already half over, and Hollins must continue to push the new reading program, Project Read, in the face of many challenges.

Jill Todd (Video) Jill Todd, Second Grade Teacher

Recent graduate Jill Todd walks into her second grade classroom excited at the possibilities. She's soon discouraged. Because Jill hasn't had proper training in teaching reading, she improvises with her struggling children ... but she knows it's not good enough. When the creator of Project Read visits Bearden, Todd is armed with the tools she needs. But is there enough time to teach all her lessons before the end of school?

Rosemary Wolfe (Video) Rosemary Wolfe, Lead Teacher

Lead teacher Rosemary Wolfe is responsible for implementing Bearden's new reading program, Project Read. Thanks to the Barksdale Grant, Wolfe finally feels as if she has enough money to order reading materials that will make a difference. But choosing what to order for such a challenged school turns out to be an enormous task — and books are slow to arrive, forcing teachers like Jill Todd to invent creative ways to teach their children how to read.

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Photo Credit for Bearden Elementary: Maude Schuyler Clay
Photo Credit for Walton Elementary: Chris Hamilton

Produced by WETA Reading Rockets