I have no doubt that, when you watch our upcoming documentary “Rebirth: New Orleans,” (an extended cut trailer is embedded above) you are going to fall in love with some of the people (particularly the kids) in the film. You may find yourself rooting for the young principal of a charter high school, hoping that he will see the light. Or you’ll be crossing your fingers that Daniel, Kady and Colleston, the three young teachers from Teach for America, will not only survive — but prosper.
Who knows: you might find yourself yelling at the screen because you empathize with the frustration of a parent with a special needs child, or cheering with the mom of a KIPP student who finally gets it.
But it’s my bet that Bobby Calvin and Brittne Jackson will grab your heartstrings. Both are struggling but trying to connect, while also trying to cope with tough circumstances. Brittne has failed one part of the high school graduation exam five times. She is 19 and working three jobs, but determined to get her high school diploma. Will she make it? Can one teacher make a difference?
When you meet Bobby, an engaging young man with a smile that lights up the room, he’s on the verge of being suspended or expelled from New Orlean’s top performing charter high school. He can’t seem to get with the program, meaning he’s always violating the school’s very (very) strict dress code and code of behavior. The school’s principal brings in a ‘tough love’ team to try to help, but it doesn’t seem to work.
I won’t tell you how these stories come out, because of course we want you to watch the film. “Rebirth: New Orleans” has been a labor of love. It’s six years of videotaping — remember our series on Paul Vallas for PBS NewsHour? — now being condensed into one hour.
We’re in the home stretch now, and I hope you will help us get to the finish line. We’ve set up a Kickstarter project to raise $50,000 towards completion of the film; so far, we’re about 31 percent of the way there (the deadline to raise the money is December 30). I’d like to thank everyone who’s donated so far — and I will thank, personally, in letters being mailed soon — but for now, if you have the time during the holiday season, please consider contributing to helping us finish this important story.
Thank you — and if you have any questions about the film or its messages, please leave remarks in the comments. I’ll do my best to respond to each and every one.