A Documentary Feature Film
By Nitzan Ofir
“Those who can’t do teach” is a saying used in many parts of the world - and it is this idea that this documentary project firmly rebuts.
I believe the opposite, “Those, who choose to teach, who truly want and feel obligated to teach and stand for their students – can’t do anything else... but teach! And we are fortunate for their gifts.”
Films like Waiting For Superman – slickly produced – present the teacher as the culprit for a system that is broken, yet a closer look shows us that the teacher is in fact the hero, often overcoming enormous obstacles to reach their students.
Jillian McRae is a teacher at Ossining High School in Westchester, New York, where among other subjects, she co-teaches with Mr.North a class on “Racism, Classisism & Sexism,” and “The Black Experience.” She is also a teacher at Columbia Teacher’s College in Manhattan where she mentors aspiring teachers. Jillian is a committed and passionate teacher, and exemplifies the importance and value of great teachers. Her enthusiasm instills the ability for her students to develop their own passion for learning and growing. Her primary focus is to educate her students with the knowledge necessary to become mature adults with good values.
Ms. McRae has a gift of developing relationships with each of her students and focusing on how to help them grow as individuals, not merely as a class. Even in the midst of State and National standards, curriculum and standardized testing, she has forged her own path. Her students are forced to develop their own opinions and views, and with Jillian’s enthusiasm, they are able to possess their own passion for their beliefs. The discussions raised in Ms. McRae’s classroom continue to follow her students in their everyday life and force them to contemplate their decisions and challenges on a regular basis. The topics of her course engage the students and initiate arguments and debates, which are always welcomed by Ms. McRae.
The Teacher celebrates the importance and value of those who make sacrifices everyday to teach our children. By focusing on one individual, we will explore the impact all teachers have each day, in classrooms across the world. And by focusing intimately on several of her students, we will document the extraordinary relationship between teacher and student, as her class spends their last high school year preparing for their future, contemplating their identities and their role and opportunities in our society.
Over the next year and a half, I will carry on following Ms. McRae and her students as they continue to grow and learn from one another. I will follow them through their high school graduation, where they will leave as young adults that have been shaped by this incredibly influential teacher. This film will show how truly important teachers are in shaping a student’s future, and in turn, the future of the world. The best kinds of teachers are those that make you analyze your life and put into perspective the material from the classroom. Often it is the teacher whom abandons the curriculum that is the one to provide the most lasting impact.
I’d like to use this opportunity to thank you all for reading, watching the trailer, and relating to the subjects, as well as to those of you who chose to back this project – please accept my deep gratitude. I promise to do my best to try to make this piece the best I can, and really try to excite even the slightest discussion about the teachers and their noble profession which isn’t considered “sexy” enough to be on the news, other than using “Educators” as something politicians like to show off with.
With your kind help my I hope to be able to raise a budget that will cover the expenses of the shooting and editing of a well made rough-cut of this film “The Teacher,” that will enable me to interest TV channels and grants with the hope to be able to complete this feature length documentary, including the expenses of editing the fine cut version, the post-production, the original score and graphic design of it. I’d like to invite you to follow the coming up new trailers at our Vimeo website that we will upload every other week, of new scenes and fresh materials of Ms.Mcrae, her co-teacher Mr. North and their students.
All gifts for the project are tax deductible to the extent provided for by law as they are being made to the film's fiscal sponsor the Jacob Burns Film Center. www.burnsfilmcenter.org