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> Across The River

 

Across the River: Widening Horizons for Youth
Transcript From Segment 2

CARTER: "I think it's necessary for our students to know at an early age that their world is not just limited by what they see as they walk to school... Their universe needs to be broadened. It's not simply enough to talk to youngsters about places, but to take them to places.

We have the arts enterprise zone project and we have provided professional, world class talents that come in and work with youngsters - Ayisha Kayil and Barnett Williams... It makes them confident, 'Well, well, I can do this.'"

NARRATOR: EVEN AS HE TEACHES HIS YOUNG STUDENTS TO TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR HERITAGE, DRAPER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, DR. JOSEPH CARTER DRAWS ON THE KENNEDY CENTER, THE LEVINE SCHOOL OF MUSIC, THE NAVY AND OTHERS TO BROADEN THEIR HORIZONS.

NAVY TUTOR: "Remember something from French class? Give me something in French....Onze, douze, treize, quatorze, quinze...."

CARTER: "I have a partnership in eduation with the Naval Intelligence Command. Volunteers from that division, who have been trained to work with students."

NARRATOR: WITH COMPUTER TRAINING THAT STARTS IN KINDERGARTEN, DRAPER'S SIXTH GRADERS ARE COMPUTER LITERATE.

CARTER: "and that's a marketable skill, you see."

H. SMITH: "You're talking about an educational experience in which socialization is as important as academic learning."

CARTER: "Totally. And it's exciting."

NARRATOR: CARTER'S APPROACH HAS AN ACADEMIC PAYOFF - TEST SCORES USUALLY ABOVE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, EVEN WITH THE OFTEN DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS FROM VALLEY GREEN PUBLIC HOUSING.

CARTER: "I want to prepare the children of Draper school to take their place in a productive way on the world scene. Not just locally and not just nationally, but internationally."

STANDUP: THAT SAME TECHNIQUE OF CREATIVE TEACHING AND CONNECTING STUDENTS TO A WIDER WORLD IS USED AT ANACOSTIA HIGH SCHOOL'S NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ACADEMY. CONTRARY TO THE SCHOOL'S 45-PERCENT DROPOUT RATE, THIS SCHOOL WITHIN A SCHOOL GRADUATES NEARLY 95 PERCENT OF ITS 150 STUDENTS. ONE EARLY STEP ON THAT SUCCESS-TRACK IS THIS GAME.

T. ESSIG: "A lot of the students, even though they live in Washington, D.C., haven't been outside one or two mile radius of home and school, and so this is a whole new experience for them."

NARRATOR: TANIA ESSIG IS FROM GMS PARTNERS, A PRIVATE CONSULTING FIRM THAT IS CONTRACTED TO RUN THE ACADEMY'S OUTREACH PROGRAM.

T. ESSIG: "Metromania was originally designed as a board game... centered around Washington, D.C., you have to work your way through the subway system by answering questions about Washington.

STUDENT: "Does D.C. have it's own National Guard?" T. ESSIG: "Then we turned it into a scavanger hunt kind of thing. They go out in teams of two. They have to get to these sites on the subway system. So it sort of builds their confidence, traveling the subway."

NARRATOR: LIKE TENTH-GRADERS ANGELA BREAKER AND CALVIN MCDOWELL.

BREAKER: "We walk around Thomas Circle to Vermont Avenue, the museum is on the left."

T. ESSIG: "Each set of students has to go to five different sites within the city."

ANGELA/CALVIN: "Hi, how are you doing, hi, fine, hi ."

MUSEUM WORKER:"Welcome to the Bethune Museum of archives."

T. ESSIG: "This year we have 65 businesses participating." (shots in Mayor's office)

M. BARRY:"What's your name again?"BREAKER: "Angela."M. BARRY:"You see Anacostia? Across the river over there? And you can see all those smoke stacks -- over there. You can't see them now."

ANGELA:"Yeah I see them....ooh its so pretty."

T. ESSIG: "And the kids love it and the things that they pick up at the businesses they bring back to the school and the teachers use it in the classroom."

NARRATOR: THE PUBLIC SERVICE ACADEMY COMBINES EXPERIENCED TEACHERS SUCH AS SUE THOMAS...HOWARD BROWN, AN INNOVATOR FOR THE D.C. BOARD OF EDUCATION...AND MEMBER OF GMS PARTNERS SUCH AS TANIA ESSIG. THE PROGRAM'S KEYS TO SUCCESS ARE A SMALL FACULTY, A CLOSE-KNIT FAMILY FEELING AND MANY OFF-CAMPUS TRIPS BUILDING UP TO JOB INTERNSHIPS FOR SENIORS...TO PREPARE THEM FOR PUBLIC SERVICE JOBS AFTER GRADUATION.

H. SMITH: "How do you help these young people overcome that sense of intimidation, of being awestruck by the world across the river?"

H. BROWN: "Exposing people to things that they would not necessarily have done. The out-visit has to be briefed, performed and then de-briefed. If we were going down to the Kennedy Center to a ballet, there's preparation about ballet: these are the things that happen, this is the story, okay. Then we go to the ballet. You've got to know that you don't talk during the performance, you have to know that you have to wait until the curtain goes down before you can get up, etc., etc."

S. THOMAS: "What I'm finding is these kinds of trips are wonderful for teaching. If they go to Kubuki theater I can teach all the elements of the drama that way. And this is way that they can learn their English skills that are required in a more exciting way."

H.SMITH: "Howard, what's the essence of this program?"

H. BROWN: "When you go on a job you actually work. So now you've got a lot of experiences that many students in the best schools in the country do not have because they haven't worked."

S. THOMAS: "If they stick with this program, if they work hard, if they get these jobs, if they go onto college, they won't end up statistic."

NARRATOR: LIKE MANY STUDENTS TEE JAY REAVES THOMPSON FELT THE TEMPTATION TO DROP OUT.

TJREAVES: "I didn't really care any more. I did not want to go to school...Ms. Thomas stayed with me throughout all of that time...She encouraged me to stay in school and wrote little things in my journal that really helped me to get through those times... and I did not want to be turned down for the opportunities like the Secret Service."

H. SMITH: BUT TEE JAY GREW UP DURING HIS INTERNSHIP AT THE U.S. SECRET SERVICE.

S. THOMAS: "When he first started in 10th grade he was very intimidated. He was afraid that he wasn't going to look right, that he was too short, that he wouldn't have the right clothes, that he would get lost on the METRO."

TJ REAVES: "Usually I wake up about 5:45 or 6 o'clock...I catch the 6:55 bus, I get off at 19th and Pennsylvania Avenue, I walk down the block and I walk in the door."

B. MAHONEY: "Uh, he gets here the same time I do, 7:30 in the morning. He's always busy. He's from one office to another office. Goes across the hall. He's filing. He comes in here he's answering phones."

TJ ANSWERING PHONE: "Good morning, Secret Service - uniform division."

B.MAHONEY: "So, he's very good."

H.SMITH: "Setting aside his age, Tee Jay Reaves, you're saying, would meet your toughest qualifications and requirements?"

G. VILLAREAL: "He has all of the characteristics and integrity that we would want. Tee J. is the perfect example of the guy in America that we want."

H.SMITH: "So what kind of values and coaching do they give you at the Public Service Academy in terms of holding this job?" TJ REAVES: "Oh well, ever since the 10th grade they've been disciplining us, about teaching us how to sit up straight, how to talk to people, how to do handshakes, the basics of it, how to be on time, be prompt all the time, do your work. And they're preparing us for the business world as if they were a business of their own."

H. SMITH: "How would you describe the feeling among the students?"

TJ REAVES: "I'd say it has been like a family for the last three years. We all have grown. Being in the same class for three years you get to know everything about everybody. Like walking from your family to another family."

S. THOMAS: "We have to be surrogate parents. We have to teach values...do a lot of things that the home used to do and doesn't any longer.

H. BROWN: "It's called a caring environment, the response to that is very, very dramatic. People who meet these children after these experiences would say they're brilliant, they're educated, they're refined."

T. ESSIG: "These are experiences that these kids don't normally have until they get into a program like the Public Service Academy. They become self-empowered, I think, and they carry it with them into college, and that's important."

I. BURR: "They gave me that confidence that said you know, 'Inga you can do this, you can do anything you want to.'"

NARRATOR: THE PSA PUT INGE BURR ON TRACK FOR WASHINGTON'S TRINITY COLLEGE.

I. BURR: "I guess my grandmother saw what direction I was going in, and it really wasn't good. I can admit that myself. And she thought that it would be a good change for me to come here and join the Public Service Academy."

J. BURR: "It really helped Inga. Sue Thomas got to know Inga very well. And she was able to help Inga in a lot of ways that I could not help her in."

S. THOMAS: "At first she was very defensive. She thought maybe this was the wrong place for her."

H. SMITH: "Were you afraid?"

I. BURR: "Yes, I guess I can say, um, I was pretty scared to come here at first."

S. THOMAS: "And she grew, she just blossomed. I couldn't get over the way she changed. And she became a leader."

I. BURR: "When I left the Public Service Academy I left telling everyone that I would come back, and I guess I've done that as far as I'm upstairs at Sylvan working with the students here."

NARRATOR: INGE BURR KEPT HER WORD AND NOW TUTORS YOUNGER STUDENTS AT ANACOSTIA HIGH.

I. BURR: "I wanted to help them, you know, gain that self-confidence that I lacked before coming to PSA."

S. THOMAS: "The children here, they tend to care about each other. They tend to want to do things together, they tend to want to help each other."

H. SMITH: "What are the consequences for American society, for the city as a whole in a program like this?"

S. THOMAS: "Over the three years that we've had graduating classes, the graduation rate has been approximately 94%. They want to stay with this program because for them it represents hope. It represents a chance."

NARRATOR: IT'S FOR THAT BETTER CHANCE, THOSE OUTREACH OPPOR- TUNITIES AND THAT TEACHING COMMITMENT THAT TEE J'S FAMILY KEPT HIM IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE ACADEMY EVEN AFTER THEY MOVED AWAY FROM ANACOSTIA.

ASST PRINCIPAL: "And number six in his class: Tee Jay Reaves.

T.J. REAVES: "They gave me that confidence and led me on my way, pointing me in the right direction."

TJ'S DAD: "Education is the only way to have choices in your life. You have options. Maybe they may not have had that opportunity if it hadn't been for the PSA."

TJ'S MOM: "Ms. Thomas, she is a great teacher. I love her. I love them, I love the teachers."