Stephanie-Lee Morgan ’04 beams with pride when a perplexed parent asks her, “What have you done to my child? My kid wants to do homework.”
A Connecticut College student featured prominently in the popular documentary “The New Public” is bringing the film and director to campus for a screening on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 210 of Blaustein Humanities Center.
John Dargan ’14 was followed by cameras for four years as he navigated Brooklyn Community Arts & Media (BCAM) High School, one of 12 high schools created in 2006 through New York City’s Small Schools Movement. Director Jyllian Gunther wanted to document the creation and implementation of BCAM through the experiences of a teacher and two students in order to explore the state of our education system, especially as it relates to inner-city schools. With Dargan, she was also able to capture heartbreaking and inspiring moments in the life of an anything-but-average teenager.
“The film happened to be shot during some of the most fun and yet toughest years of my youth,” Dargan explained. “While filming was taking place, my father passed away and my mother was clinically depressed. At the same time, I was comfortable enough to be open about my sexual orientation, and I hope having that captured on film will help other high-school students find their own levels of comfort in all areas of their lives.”
The film has been screened at Festivals in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, and will be shown at the White House in early March, an event Dargan will attend. In December 2013, it was the subject of an op-ed in The New York Times in which author Joe Nocera wrote, “As the country continues to struggle with education reform, it seems obvious that education schools need to change, so that prospective teachers walk into their first classroom knowing how to teach. Maybe ‘The New Public’ can help bring about that change.”
“Being in the film was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Dargan, “and I am excited for it to be screened at Connecticut College. Not only because every student and faculty member has been through high school and will understand some of the hardships and frustrations, but also because I think it will share some of the lessons I learned transitioning from my high school to a place like Connecticut College: BCAM made me an open-minded person, but the College helped me expand my mind even more, to think critically and to not judge others so harshly. Whether you are a former high school student, current teacher or professor, or a parent — there is something for all people to relate to in ‘The New Public.’”
The screening is free and open to the public. Following the film, Dargan and Gunther will participate in a panel discussion with Professor of Education Michael James and Aracelis Vazquez Haye, the College’s protestant chaplain and a member of the New London Board of Education.
The event is sponsored by the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, the Office of Volunteers for Community Service, the Residential Education Fellow Program and the Office of College Relations.