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?
Simple words that start a war: "Good morning. My name is Miss Barrett. I am your Home Room teacher..."
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Did You Know?
Bel Kaufman, in the Preface to the 25th anniversary edition of the book, writes: "The movie was filmed in New York City, in and around Haaren High School, which had been emptied for the summer." 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
[urging Mr. Barringer to dance with a student
Why do you always say "maybe later"? Maybe sometime, maybe Thursday, and there never is a Thursday.