The Teacher

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Youngren, Michael A; Hoover, Mel, Rev
live performance description
THE TEACHER - video documentary, 56 minutes "The Teacher" developed as a video biographical-documentary from a primal disturbance in the community. A modern grade school built for primarily African-American students was to be named. The school board favored a neutral geographical name. When the board rejected the name Barack Obama, a new name emerged. Eventually, the entire community coalesced around the name Mary C. Snow, whose life as teacher and civic leader, was framed by nearly every race, class and place battle of the 20th century. The school board was recalcitrant. Mary C. Snow was born a century ago, black and poor. Her father died violently when she was a teen. Mary graduated college at age 19 and earned a master's degree from The University of Cincinnati. She taught in many schools and became the first principal of a integrated school in the Kanawha Valley. Many contemporaries told her story. The young students and the entire community came to understand the fullness of who she was. But, it was the anguish in the black faces at board debates that drove the initial desire to produce the biography. In the process of gathering material, the producers become keenly aware of the urban-Appalachian relationships between black and whites; what it was then, what it is now. The battle over the school name was contentious. The community painfully discovered deep fissures in matters of race, fairness and the importance of legacy. It turns out Mary C. Snow never stopped teaching.