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?
The U.S. State Department submitted this film to the 1967 Moscow Film Festival, in order to contradict Soviet propaganda, which implied that all American schools were racially segregated. See more
In the classroom scene where Harry A Kagan is talking, his necktie alternates between being tucked into the belt and in front of the belt. See more
[Defending her inability to treat an abused student
Nurse Frances Eagen
I give them tea. At least that's something.