Visualizing a Documentary Film About a Unique School

I do a lot of my work behind closed doors with my promise to keep my visualizations confidential. Luckily, that’s balanced out by the public facing work I get to create, like the visual listening piece above, facilitating and documenting the discussion about funding and creating a short documentary film delving into the history of a unique school in NYC.  

The proposed film will delve into the history of the Ella Baker School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The conversation included a twice academy award nominated filmmaker, and members of the school community--teachers, principal, parents, and more. 

The school was named after Ella Baker, one of the key figures in the civil rights movement. She worked, largely behind the scenes to mentor changemakers like Rosa Parks, Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, and Bob Moses, as well as cofounding SNCC, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the most important organizations in the movement.

The Ella Baker School is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, and is a rare example of a public school which which is driven by student interest and is project based where students “learn from making and doing with a range of materials and media, in collaboration with peers and through the support of adults.” It takes the opposite of test driven learning. In keeping with its namesake, the school has a strong social justice focus. It is open to all children in NYC and is an oasis in a sea of overtested, overcrowded NYC public schools.

In making a movie like this, there a lot of factors to consider---timeline, access to students and school, production crew, and of course, budget--who is going to pay for what. Participants told me that the graphic recording I created helped them understand the issues involved better and think about next steps “That is so cool!  It does make it easier to grasp what went on” wrote one parent.