Friday, September 26, 2008

Defying the Odds Featured at DeKalb Co. Public Library

Literacy Program Features Defying the Odds

The DeKalb County Library System featured Defying the Odds this fall with screenings of the documentary at branch libraries throughout the system. The culminating activity of the series was a presentation by Pamela Roberts, producer of the award winning documentary. Pam and Videographer, Wayne Baumgardner, talked about their experiences following five students who were part of a larger group promised a college education by Merrill Lynch if these students graduated from High School. The documentary begins when the students are in the 10th grade and follows them through to their senior year in High School. The students, families and student mentor, Dr. Barbara Whitaker, all contribute to the stories.

Laura Hauser, in the DeKalb County Public Library Literary Services program, organized the Defying the Odds series. She introduced the program, shared clips from the documentary then invited the audience to participate in an informal discussion of reactions to factors that that all students face as they journey towards a goal of high school graduation. Family support, parent-school relationships and access to technology were some of the main points of conversation.

Defying the Odds first aired in 2002 and was awarded the National CINE Golden Eagle, The Best of Television (Society of Professional Journalists and first place for documentaries in The Green Eye Shade award. Producer Roberts provided a 2008 update on the lives of the 5 students featured in the documentary.

GPB Education's Barbara O'Brien joined the discussion to share the Resource Guide for Educators. This companion document provides the Defying the Odds themes, risk factors for students, strategies for working with at-risk youth, models for making good decisions and much more.

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