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Defining US: Children at the Crossroads of Change
November 4, 2022 at 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tickets are FREE to the general public; register above to claim your seats.
Sacred Heart University Community Theatre on Nov. 4 will present the timely new documentary, “Defining US: Children at the Crossroads of Change,” followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers, national education experts and diversity and inclusion administrators from SHU and Fairfield Public Schools. The evening is free and open to the public.
“Defining US” tells the unheard stories of those most impacted by the culture war in our nation’s schools: the teachers and students. The two largest U.S. school systems – the New York City Department of Education and the Los Angeles Unified School District – provided access to the producers and education experts from Yale, Columbia and New York universities and the University of California Los Angeles participated.
The screening will provide a key opportunity for local discussion of this critical national issue, said panelist Maurice D. Nelson, Sacred Heart’s chief diversity & inclusion officer.
“My hope is that we will explore and discuss the limitless scope and breadth of identities at various intersections with race,” Nelson said. “It is important for me that we discuss how these considerations are imperative to our approaches to traditional and non-traditional education. I am excited by the ways in which this series of documentaries amplifies the experiences of many who are often underrepresented, and I hope that our discussion leads us to action items.”
In addition to Nelson, the evening’s panelists will include:
Stacey DeWitt, CEO of CWK Network, Inc., and director and executive producer of “Defining US.” She has produced more than 65 documentaries and won more than 40 awards for her work, including Emmys, Parents’ Choice Awards and Associated Press Awards.
Filmmaker Tammie Workman, educator and consulting producer on “Defining US”
Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D., an award-winning associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who researches racial literacy in teacher education, Black girl literacies and Black and Latinx male high school students
Robert S. Johnson, executive director of Sacred Heart’s Multicultural Center
Digna Marte, diversity, equity and inclusion director for Fairfield Public Schools
The event is sponsored by SHU Community Theatre, Fairfield University and Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield.
Produced by CWK Network, Inc., “Defining US” is the flagship in a series of films sharing the untold stories of educators and students in the center of a culture war it asserts has the most harmful impacts on students of color, who are now the majority of America’s youth. The film gained momentum over the summer through private screenings in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York City and other communities.
“You are going to be blown away by what you see,” said New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) Chancellor David Banks at the New York screening. “This film not only celebrates and uplifts our young people and our educators and our influencers across the country, but it will serve as an inspiration for those who are actually in the work.”
The inspiration for the film began as part of a conversation between DeWitt and Paul Forbes, a Black educator from New York, with the goal of creating a platform with credible educational resources that help communities have constructive conversations and take positive action to improve social issues that impact students’ identity.
‘Defining US’ lifts up teachers and students as a voice of reason in the divisive national dialogue that threatens America’s freedoms and future,” DeWitt said.