Film Descriptions


Espa–ola Valley High School (Espa–ola, NM)

Thomas Vigil has struggled with academics all of his life. However, he gained confidence in his ability to succeed in school when he became involved in arts programming and television production at his high school. Thomas, who is highly creative, has found a new interest in school and is eager to learn. While he still struggles in English, his teacher says that he seems much happier and has brought his enthusiasm for developing TV programs into her class.

The Importance of Arts in Schools

Many schools do not have the resources to incorporate arts and creative technology into the curriculum or offer as an extra-curricular activity.  Oftentimes, a creative learning approach and communication closes the gap on academic shortcomings.


Producers: Wayne Sanchez, Lead Producer: Ellen Kaiper, Teacher

Communication Arts High School (San Antonio, TX)

Nicole began her high school career as one of over 3,500 kids on a huge suburban campus. Then she had the opportunity to transfer to a smaller community within this behemoth: a magnet school with only 450 students, specialized classes, rigorous academics and highly motivated and qualified teachers. Follow Nicole through a typical school day as we discover what makes this smaller schoolwork so well for students, teachers and administrators.

Small-School Design

Small School Design has the potential to transform the nationsÕ secondary school system with more personal attention, access to resources.


Producers: Lauren Barron, Lead Producer: Heidi Whitus, Teacher



Additional Themes: Personalization of School Systems


Educational Video Center (New York, NY)

Gerardo Vargas, a.k.a "Promise," was a gang member and high school drop out, firmly in the grip of a New York City street life -- that is, until he enrolled in Satellite High School. Satellite is an alternative school that is giving Gerardo a second chance. Much smaller than traditional schools, Satellite allows Gerardo to be on a first name basis with his teachers, which helps create an atmosphere of community and respect. Alternative schools may not be for everyone, but Satellite High School is working for Gerardo.

Alternative School Systems

As teachers and advisors have the time and capacity to serve individual students, schools are personalizing interactions for unique learning styles and histories. Alternative School Systems create options for students who may otherwise consider dropping out.  These new and innovative environments combine personalized interactions with access to resources to create the optimal learning environment for students.


Producers: Gerardo Rivera, Lead Producer: Ivana Espinet, Instructor: Producers: Shanti Dawson, William Knox, Joseph Lawler, Milton Bullock, Tiffany Ray, Shinel Taylor, and Gerando Vargas


Additional Themes: Small-School Design

Evanston High School (Evanston, IL)

Two years ago, Jamaal was going nowhere fast with poor grades, second-rate test scores and little support from home. Yet, Jamal will graduate High School with a 3.73 grade point average and head to college with a prestigious $100,000 Posse Fellowship where he will pursue his dream of being an engineer. A detailed behind-the-scenes look into the classrooms of the teachers at Evanston Township High School, just outside of Chicago, reveals a mixture of inspiring pedagogy, emotional coaching with a strong dose of personalized attention.

Personalization of School Systems

Respect is the basic tenet of acknowledgment and understanding between individuals, and it is the baseline of communication that expresses how deeply a teacher is invested in student success.  Students respond when they have a committed and proactive teacher involved in their learning experienc . 


Producers: Mickey Muldoon, Lead Producer: Mindy Faber, Teacher

Additional Themes: TeachersÕ Investment in StudentsÕ Success

NOVAC (New Orleans, LA)

"Mr. Raymond, Our Favorite Teacher: A Scientific Inquiry" These science students build cars, construct seismographs and make volcanoes that overflow with molten lava. They study earth science, biology, physics, mechanics, chemistry and have so much fun that when asked who was their favorite teacher, the unanimous reply is: "Mr. Raymond." We discover that Mr. Raymond's teaching drive spawns from his passion, hands-on learning method and teaching career.

In-Field Teaching

Teachers who teach in their field of expertise have greater skill to share new and relevant information and learning with students.  Additionally, their innate interest and passion adds dimension to the presentation of this knowledge.


Producers: Nicole Luke, Lead Producer: Jake Springfield, Instructor



Additional Themes: Passion and Expertise



Film Descriptions


Spy Hop Productions (Salt Lake City, UT)

Interview students expressing their experiences with teachers who teach to different learning styles.  Mix in the creative work of students as they share the product of their learning experiences. Blend with dynamic editing that likewise presents information in formats geared toward different learning styles and the final product is a provocative short that that doesnÕt just tell the viewer about diverse learning styles but engages them in the learning process.

Alternative Teaching Tools

Performance based teaching allows students with different learning styles to be engaged and included in the learning process.  Instead of the didactic and structured classroom exchange, teachers are able to express the curriculum in more inventive ways, reaching a greater variety of learners.


Producers: Matt Bradley, Lead Producer: Rick Wray, Instructor



Additional Themes: In-Field Teaching, Passion and Expertise

Wide Angle Community Media (Baltimore, MD)

In a school where academics must compete with the arts, a French teacher holds center stage. Having taught in Baltimore City for years, Monsieur Tabegna, a French teacher at Baltimore School for the Arts, knows how to grab students' attention and connect with them on their level. Using his whole body, Monsieur snaps his fingers, sobs in despair, and does whatever it takes to keep his students engaged. His performances grab the classÕ attention, but his high expectations for every student, and ability to connect with each youth, keep their attention, and make Monsieur Tabegna one of the schoolÕs favorite teachers.

Structure and Discipline in Classroom, Students respond to consistent and engaging instruction, and will often perform based on the level of interest and accountability placed upon them.  Passionate teachers are deeply invested in the success of their students and create a high benchmark for their performance.


Producers: Cady Visniac, Lead Producer: Gin Ferrara, Instructor


Additional Themes: In-Field Teaching, Passion and Expertise, High Expectations


Youth Media (Oakland, CA)
Vicki Chan, senior at Skyline High school, shows us how two Oakland Public School teachers transfer their knowledge into interactive teaching techniques that literally get their students up and cheering.  Mr. Sears stands on a field with his high school physics class ready to launch their rockets, putting on a helmet, goggles and jock strap,. Whoever hits him gets an "A." On the other side of school, clapping and shouting dance instructions to rival Debbie Allen of Fame, Ms. James does a funky dance sequence as her students mirror her perfectly. These two teachers are not only professionals in their given fields but also experts at illustrating the excitement of inspirational teaching.

Project Based Learning,

Many times students respond not only to the material, but also the way it is presented and taught.  Project based learning gives students a chance to contribute and associate new concepts in broader terms.  Projects allow for group interaction and presentation, building a greater construct of the ways learning can look and feel.


Producers: Vicki Chan, Lead Producer: Cynthia Tsai, Instructor



Additional Themes: In-Field Teaching, Passion and Expertise, Importance of Arts in the Classroom




Underlying Themes

1.      Video as Mechanism for Youth-Authored Opinions

2.      Students excel with respected and trusted by teachers

3.      In-field teaching

4.      Personalization of School Systems

5.      Young people want to be engaged

6.      Positive, constructive feedback to teachers

7.      Stated and demonstrated commitment to student success

8.      Alternative teaching methods

9.      Teachers as experts and advocates

10.   Culture as part of the learning environment















Youth Action Resource Guide


Create Your Own Learning Experience

Listen, Watch, Create: it is possible to create your own learning experience with tools, original curriculum, and alternate learning resources.


Curriculum Design

The Open Directory Project:

The most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web, this link focuses on links and references to curriculum design guides.

Alternative Learning Tools

Motivation Tools:

This site addresses project base learning and alternative approaches to learning and motivating students.

Suggested Resources

What Kids Can Do:

Making Students Partners in High School Redesign- resources available from What Kids Can Do

¤       The Schools We Need: Creating Small High Schools That Work For Us

¤       Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students

¤       Student Learning in Small Schools: An Online Portfolio

¤       First Ask, Then Listen: How To Get Your Students To Help You Teach Them Better

¤       Student Research for Action: A Collection of Examples and Resources

¤       Students As Allies: Five Cities Enlist Students As Partners in Improving Schools

¤       Young Organizers Mobilize to Change Their World, Starting with School

¤       Proceedings from the First Bronx New Century High Schools Student Summit


Define and Understand Your Rights

As citizens and students we have the right to free speech and creative authority in defending our constitutional liberties.


Rights as a Student


The sites helps you understand your rights to equality in education, fair treatment, privacy, religious freedom and free expression.

Rights as a Citizen

The National Youth Rights Association

The National Youth Rights Association site provides resources about youth rights, working with public officials to devise fitting policy solutions to problems affecting young people and empowering young people.

Rights as an Activist

The Freechild Project

The SNAYR is the most comprehensive database of information on youth rights available today.  The site is a project of The Freechild project which advocates for social change by and with young people.


Participate in Local and National Organizations

There are many benefits to organizational participation, which include identifying a community of well resourced individuals who share the same field of interest and hold expertise as well.


Local (School/ Community Based)


SHiNE helps teens take a stand, use their voice, and impact their world- and start up local ShiNE clubs


National Education Association

NEA has a long history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education.  The site lists national events and contacts for the longstanding and ongoing efforts made with the National Education Association.

Global Networks


iEARN is a non-profit global network that enables young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world.  The site lists programs for classroom use that involve other school groups from around the world.



Document Your Process

Youth Media production and creation is a great way to self-express, share ideas and organize with individuals across many fields of interest.  There are many resources that promote and bolster this process.


Youth Media Organizations

These links provide a wealth of information and resources for youth media and action processes and organizing.



Contact local officials and PolicymakersÉ Regularly

Communication is the baseline of effective political action.  Further, communicating your vision and ideas to the policymakers and local officials is a great way to document your efforts and create momentum around organization.


Letter Writing Campaigns

Letter-writing is one of the most effective tools for political action. This site lists a comprehensive guide for successful creating and executing a letter writing campaign.

Effective Follow-Up and Follow-Through

This site concisely lists the most effective tips for communication with policymakers.



Share Your Experience with other Youth Activists

Sharing experience increases the reach and effectiveness of your efforts and creates new opportunities to learn and expand a network of Youth Actionists.


Hosting/Attending Community Events

RoundtableMedia (

At the heart of RoundtableÕs work is their belief that social change occurs in a social context: face-to-face in the real and not virtual world.  They provide important advise and direction in the community planning process.

Effective Uses of the Media/Press

MediaRights (, a community web site, helps media makers, educators, nonprofits, and activists use documentaries to encourage action and inspire dialogue on contemporary social issues. Youth-produced documentaries can be found throughout online database, enabling anyone to find work in seconds.


Mentoring is how organizations nurture and grow their people.  This site has links to mentorship best practices.