Sylvia Barrett is a rookie teacher at New York's inner-city Calvin Coolidge High: her lit classes are overcrowded, a window is broken, there's no chalk, books arrive late. The administration is concerned mainly with forms and rules (there's an up and a down staircase); bells ring at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she tries. How she handles the chaos and her despair in her first semester makes up the film: a promising student drops out, another sleeps through class, a girl with a crush on a male teacher gets suicidal, and a bright but troublesome student misunderstands Sylvia's reaching out. A discussion of Dickens, parents' night, and a mock trial highlight the term. Can she make it?
Actually filmed in the classrooms and on the sidewalks of New York!
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Did You Know?
Benjamin Franklin High School on Pleasant Avenue and 116th Street is now the Center for Mathematics and Science. The building is seen on the cover of the DVD with Sandy Dennis in foreground. See more
During the opening montage establishing the first day of school in September in a New York high school, several shots were obviously filmed in dead of winter with extras in heavy coats, gray skies, etc. contrasting wildly with scenes of sunny skies and lightweight costumes of main characters. See more
I've just seen your type before, that's all. There's one every year. "Not living up to your potential," they say. Is that what you were going to say, teach? "Just wanna help you, Joe?" "Just wanna be your friend?" Then they get to feeling very sorry for your about your "environmental factors", and your "low socio-economic level". Till you've just have to tell 'em; "Get your nose outta my environmental factors, will ya? Keep your damn hands off my potential"... and then they turn you in.
Referenced in Reflections of Evil