Winner 2001

The First Year

Teachers Documentary Project

Intense and emotional, The First Year cuts through the rhetoric of the national debate about education to remind us what is real—the powerful relationship between a teacher and a student. Chronicling the human side of teaching, the program follows five determined and committed novice teachers as they struggle to survive their first year of teaching in some of America’s toughest schools. Produced by the Teachers Documentary Project, this film unflinchingly sheds light on the issues facing public schools. Producer-Director-Videographer Davis Guggenheim and Producer Julia Schachter show what happens when the system fails to serve, when families fail to support both teacher and student, and what teachers must do when idealism is not enough. The five educators—kindergarten teacher Maurice Rabb, fifth grade teacher Nate Monley, middle school teacher Genevieve DeBose, high school teachers Georgene Acosta and Joy Kraft-Watts—are a diverse, realistic and enthusiastic group. To follow these young teachers and their students through the year, Guggenheim and Schachter are joined by Videographers Sandra Chandler and Jennifer Lane under the guidance of Executive Producer Jill Murphy. In addition to presenting American education in its most urgent and raw moments, The First Year is also a catalyst for an extensive educational outreach campaign to encourage teacher recruitment. Supporting materials include a website and a short version of the documentary called “Teach.” For a passionate record of the trials and triumphs of five young teachers that educates its viewers to life on the front lines of contemporary public education, a Peabody Award goes to the Teachers Documentary Project for The First Year.