Schools that Change Communities
profiles a diverse group of
public schools that are successfully creating higher achieving students
in a different way -- by turning the communities where they live into
The film re-imagines what education can be,
visiting K-12 public schools in five states across America that are
engaging students in learning by solving real-world problems in a
variety of communities, from economically and environmentally challenged
rural areas to poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods.
students in Howard, SD, build an interdisciplinary curriculum around a
plan to save the town's struggling economy. In a Boston neighborhood
with a high level of crime and poverty, students learn to connect the
dots between what their community seems to the outside world and what it
might become. In a small Appalachian town, elementary school students
help clean up an adjacent stream polluted by acid mine drainage from
former coal mines. In Watsonville, CA, high school students studying
Roosevelt's New Deal try to come up with a New Deal for their farming
community. In Cottage Grove, OR, students help create a sustainable
environment, while learning valuable science, engineering and math
In the film, administrators, teachers, students and local residents
discuss their projects and the value they find in place- and
community-based education -- an interdisciplinary approach which
emphasizes hands-on, curiosity-based investigation using surrounding
neighborhoods as "living" classrooms. By confronting and solving
real-world issues in their hometowns, students become more engaged in
the learning process and develop a stronger sense of civic
responsibility and pride. Plus, the local communities benefit, as well.Broadcast on Public Television
The DVD includes five extended interviews with film participants:
- Purposeful Instruction – Dana McCauley, Principal, Crellin Elementary School; Crellin, Maryland
- Rural Community – Dr. James B. Beddow, Former Director, Rural Learning Center; Howard, South Dakota
- Horticulture Therapy – Maggie Matoba, Garden Coordinator, Kennedy Alternative High School; Cottage Grove, Oregon
- Interdisciplinary Curriculum – Christine Kopecky, English Teacher, and Gerardo Loyola, History Teacher, Watsonville High School; Watsonville, California
- People Power – Chandra Joseph-Lacet, Upper-Middle School Coordinator, Young Achievers Science & Math Pilot School; Boston, Massachusetts
Reviews & Awards"Highly Recommended. Director Bob Gliner’s absorbing documentary...serves up solid examples of collaborative projects that produce real-life local benefits."
– Video Librarian
"Highly Recommended for all libraries. Captures experiential learning at its finest. An outstanding resource for teacher education and social science courses. It is also an excellent professional and community development tool for board members, administrators, teachers, and parents."
– Educational Media Reviews Online
"One of the major movements in education over the last few decades is to reach outside the classroom walls and use our communities as resources for teaching and learning. This well-crafted program looks at that concept in general and explores five exemplary programs across the country that illustrate the possibilities in wide-ranging types of settings, both rural and urban."
- School Library Journal
"Teachers, administrators and educational stakeholders looking to engage students in school-community based social learning projects will want to watch Bob Gliner’s Schools that Change. In all cases...the end result is the empowerment of students as citizens."
– Green Teacher Magazine
“Schools That Change Communities is about schools as they should be. In this pedagogical age of ‘time on task,’ ‘direct instruction’ and a short-sighted emphasis on ‘Drill, Baby, Drill,’ the film shows that school improvement can be healthy, engaging and lead to significant community involvement and improvement.”
— David Sobel, Professor of Education, Antioch University New England, Co-Author, Place and Community-based Education in Schools
"We have been searching for a very long time for a film like this one that can help teachers, parents, and young people re-imagine what schools can and should be. We have used the film as a powerful professional development tool for teachers. As a teaching tool the film is perfect. It is not only inspirational but provides a range of powerful examples with enough nuance and detail to serve as guides for action."
—Ethan Lowenstein, Professor, Teacher Education, Eastern Michigan University
"Beautifully illustrates the power of the partnership between communities and schools; clearly demonstrating the "win-win" aspect of project based, experiential learning for students from kindergarten through high school while enriching the quality of life in the students' community. When every student has the opportunity to learn through service to his/her community, drop out rates will plummet and test scores will rise!"
—Susan Meyers, Former Dean, College of Education, San Jose State University
"This lovely documentary is convincing testimony of what happens when school children learn by solving real problems in their communities instead of fake ones on worksheets. Test scores rise, communities grow stronger, and schools fulfill their promise of producing smart kids and empowered citizens."
—Joshua Aronson, PhD., Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University, Author of "Improving Academic Achievement"
“Bob Gliner has an incredible skill for capturing the nuances of what it takes for school children and youth to be engaged with their communities to transform them. Superintendents, schools boards, principals, teachers, and parents will benefit greatly from its hopeful and authentic message.“
—Dilafruz Williams, Professor Educational Leadership and Policy Portland State University, Former Member, Portland School Board
“This is a fantastic introduction – the best I've ever experienced – to existing and potential links between schools and communities. The cultural and geographical diversity of communities profiled, along with their unique challenges, creates an expansive range of ideas for others to consider.”
—David Greenwoord, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Education, Lakehead University, Ontario, Canada
"Provides a view of what we should be aspiring to in schools. The diversity of grade levels and ethnic profiles shows that this kind of innovative, place-based approach can work anywhere. All are public schools, three out of five in high-poverty areas."