Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

teacher at blackboard

Only a Teacher: The Impact of Teachers on American Public Education is an outstanding three-part series narrated by Stockard Channing. It examines both the history of teaching in the U.S. and the current state of the teaching profession. Interviews with educators, historians, celebrities, and students; a wealth of archival materials; and evocative dramatizations tell with passion and due reflection the story of America’s promise to its children: the best education for everyone.

A three-part series, 54-56 minutes each. Copyright date: 2000

All grade levels.

Show descriptions:

A Teacher Affects Eternity

Since the 1830s, public schools have spread into every corner of America. Then and now, what kind of people have been called to teach in these schools? This program explores the importance of educators in the lives of their students, emphasizing a teacher’s influence as role model, as upholder of society’s norms, and even as agent of social change. Dedicated women who spent their careers teaching newly freed slaves and turn-of-the-century teachers of immigrants are profiled, as well as exemplary instructors of today’s struggling teenagers. Education reformer Theodore Sizer, education historian David Tyack, and author Frank McCourt are featured. (56 minutes)

Those Who Can...Teach

Historically, America has displayed an ambivalence toward public school teachers, expecting much from them while frequently offering little respect, meager pay, and inadequate working conditions. This program traces the evolution of teaching as a profession, honoring educators who risked everything to stand up for teachers’ rights. Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond; Lorraine Monroe, of the School Leadership Academy; and others talk about issues such as training, unionization, standards, bureaucracy, and professional growth, while four intern teachers share the lessons of their baptisms of fire. (56 minutes)

Educating to End Inequity

This program addresses teachers' efforts to level the educational and social playing fields for their students by examining public school reform and its relationship to social change. Educators who taught on the western frontier in the late 19th century and in the South during desegregation are spotlighted, along with contemporary instructors working with Native Americans in New Mexico and inner-city youth in New York. Visionaries including Joseph Abeyta, of the Santa Fe Indian School; Ann Cook, of Urban Academy; and retired North Carolina school principal Kat Crosby consider cultural identity, teaching for diversity, performance-based assessment, and other topics. (54 minutes)