Film Festival 2015
Students in Christa’s Fundamental of Educational Administration course hosted the film festival “What’s Goin’ On in Schools” in partnership with the Akron Summit County Library in the arts district in downtown Akron. The purpose of the event was to provide community members with a deeper understanding of how school communities understand the purpose of school. Graduate students engaged with their school communities in an inquiry-based project in which they asked children, teachers, community members, families, and school leaders how they understood the role of vision and mission in making decisions in schools. Graduate students created five minute films to illustrate what they are learning about their school communities and how they understand the role of vision and mission in promoting learning for all children. They discovered the need to make sure we are reaching all children, especially those who live on the margins because of their race, class, sexual orientation, where they live, the family they belong with, ability, religion/faith/beliefs, immigration status, native language, gender, gender expression, and other dimensions of diversity. Community members were featured between films. These community members represented K-12 students, advisors, teachers, coaches, parents, community members, school leaders, and organizational leaders. Each of them emphasized the need to utilize a vision and mission to deepen our understanding of what it means to be human, to be an authentic self, and the need to build bridges among ourselves and others within our school communities.
One of the high school students who spoke between films stressed, “What if school allowed me to learn at my own pace, rather than focusing on a grade? What if my teachers weren't concerned about teaching a test, but rather giving me information applicable to my higher education and/or career goals. What if my school’s funding was equivalent to neighboring districts, giving me equal opportunity. What if I had a teachers and administrators that reflected the ethnicity of my school's population? What if I didn’t see bullying on a daily basis? What if?”
A middle school student shared, “My idea for an ideal school would be one where I have closer relationships with my teachers and principal. Maybe they could eat lunch with us to understand us better. I would also like them to come to our homes to get a better understanding of our families and know all the things they have to offer. This doesn't always happen, unfortunately. Sometimes I feel intimidated in school and it influences how I learn. For example, recently one of my teachers made fun of my answer when I was asked a question. It made me feel embarrassed, and upset. On the flip side, I had two teachers (3rd and 4th grade) and two principals (3rd and 6th grade) in my life who made a significant impact on me. My 3rd and 4th grade teachers loved me for who I was and inspired me to be the best me. They wrote all of us handwritten letters in the summer before we came to school. They told us how excited they were we were for each of us to be in their class. My 4th grade teacher inspired me to become a teacher. For my principals, the first one was also during 3rd grade. I was new to the school. She saw me at the Akron Art Museum summer concert. She said I was part of her family now and danced with me. It meant so much to me and made me feel welcomed. The second principal was my principal last year. She talked to me about life. We talked about spirituality, relationships, sexuality, ideas about community service projects, and starting family nights at the school. She listened to me and valued what I said. This year, even though I am not in her school anymore, she reached out to us in 7th grade. We are working together on thinking about gender, what it means to be a girl, and disrupting these very strong images society sends us. It's important for all of you to know teachers and principals can have an impact on a child's life. It's up to them to think about if they want it to be positive or negative. The one teacher still intimidates me. I am quiet in class. The principals I mentioned still have a positive impact on my life. Which one will you choose?
Feedback from viewers included:
“These films were inspirational.”
“I enjoyed listening to the students, teachers, and leaders in the community between films. Their passion was amazing.”
“I had no idea of the disconnect in schools between vision, mission, practice, and policy. It’s quite sad. I’m not sure what we can do about this.”
“The films illustrated the need to ensure schools focus on establishing meaningful relationships with students and families. They broke it down and helped us realize what really matters.”
"Educators need to attend these events.”