Sheila Eller, a teacher at Baltimore's Pimlico Middle School sums up the intent of "School Works" when she says of the young people in her classes, "They just need somebody to be interested."
Viewers should be interested in and heartened by this local education special (airing tonight on WMAR-Channel 2, at 8 o'clock, and repeating at 10 a.m. Sunday ), which anchor Stan Stovall introduces as an effort to show "there is good news about our Baltimore City schools."
The good news, it turns out, translates simply into people: teachers and students whose efforts rarely emerge from the deluge of news about education deficiencies in a challenging urban environment.
Produced with the help of a grant from the Abell Foundation, the hourlong special introduces us to numerous committed people, such as Ms. Eller, the Pimlico academic coach, and lets their stories teach some perhaps obvious lessons.
"I decided I could make a difference in the lives of children. . . . These young men need a positive male role model," says Carter Bayton, an Edmondson High/Coppin State College graduate who now teaches an experimental all-male class of second-graders at Coleman Elementary School.
"The best way to learn in school" is to stay after school, says Wil Hylton, a graduate of City College.
"How dare you grow up without knowing science?" Hamilton Middle School science teacher Margret Miller exhorts her students.
"I'm very well educated," insists tuba player Richard White, a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts who is headed this fall into the Peabody Conservatory to continue his studies.
The program encompasses a pretty good range of schools. We see stories from the high-profile citywide high schools, such as City College and School for the Arts. Other portraits emerge from vocational schools, such as Carver High, zoned schools, such as Lake Clifton High, and several middle schools.
The emphasis, especially in vignettes of students, is at the secondary level. Most of the taping took place last spring, and some of the students talk of their college plans.
Channel 2 held a preview screening of the show for school and community leaders last week, and in leaflets distributed to schools urged teachers to tape it for reshowing. The station also has offered the program for re-screening later this fall on Maryland Public Television.
To be sure, "School Works" won't make the problems facing city schools go away. But it does offer another viewpoint worth contemplating.
Good news at school
What: "School Works"
When: 8 o'clock tonight, repeated 10 a.m. Sunday
@Where: WMAR-Channel 2