Jessie Sawyer discovered her desire to be a journalist "back in elementary school," thanks to creative projects and encouraging teachers. Farmington Public Schools continued to nurture her aspiration, and as a student at Farmington High School she even interviewed a former Bachelorette contestant.
Across the country, not all students are so lucky, as Lowrey Crews, a program director for Teach For America, was quick to tell Jessie during their February 2010 interview. Fresh from Bates College, Jessie traveled to New Orleans, compelled to tell the story of two other recent graduates and Connecticut natives; both of whom had found themselves on the front lines of the fight against educational inequity.
Kate Herndon, who still calls herself a Wilton Warrior five years after graduating from Wilton High School, and Amanda Carlozzi, a Farmington native, served as Teach For America corps members in LaPlace, Louisiana. Kate taught Special Education, Amanda Mathematics. Jessie arrived, camera in hand.
Imagine my delight at encountering the incredible work of these three young women. As Kate and Amanda struggled to reach their students and ultimately to narrow the achievement gap, Jessie followed their experience, from classroom to classroom, battleground to battleground. I followed Jessie, from clip to clip.
My goal in creating this video was both Herculean and modest: to learn how to edit in Final Cut. What I learned instead--or, I hope, in addition--is that Jessie’s project is a part of Kate’s, Amanda’s, and Teach For America’s work. Jessie taught me to share her conviction that media can make good. That a five minute and eighteen second internet video can improve education for kids in low-income communities: if you watch it. Molly FitzMaurice
Creative Commons music courtesy of: “Genes” from Texas Music Forge