“What this group of students and their remarkable teacher are proving is that kids with no secure homes and no secure futures can learn to hope and to become first class citizens. If there’s anything more important than that, please tell me what it is.” - Hal Holbrook
All of the children at Hobart Elementary School qualify for free breakfast and lunch, and few speak English as a first language. Many are from poor or troubled families. Yet, year after year, The Hobart Shakespeareans excel. They read passionately, far above their grade level, tackle algebra, and stage Shakespeare so professionally that they often wow the great Shakespearean actor himself, Sir Ian McKellen.
Rafe Esquith makes this profound learning happen with a rigorous diet of intensive learning mixed with a lot of kindness and fun. These children come to school at 6:30 a.m. and often stay until it is dark. They come during vacation. They take field trips all over the world. They play rock and roll music. Mediocrity has no place in their classroom community.
It is not easy, but these children dare to defy society’s expectations. These kids are hungry, and they want out. They work their way out. After all, there are no shortcuts.
This film shows a possible classroom environment that greatly exceeds learning outcomes, develops language skills, non-verbal communication skills, empathy for others, and creates students willing and able to become what most people believe that can’t – profoundly successful.
About Rafe Esquith:
Rafe Esquith has been teaching at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles for 28 years and is the author of the new book Real Talk for Real Teachers. Esquith is the only teacher to have been awarded the president’s National Medal of Arts. His other honors and awards include:
- The Compassion in Action Award from the Dalai Lama
- Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life Award
- The Kennedy Center’s Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award
- People magazine’s Heroes Among Us Award
Books by Rafe Esquith:
When & Where
The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence
The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence provides world-class professional development for public and private school teachers who are eager to develop classrooms centered on critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and brain-based research. The Institute provides on-site seminars, workshops and conferences; a teacher residency program; and funding for off-site professional development, especially at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The Institute draws on the research and ideas of leading educational thinkers and child development experts, and it blends theory with practical application, including the opportunity for teachers to observe, network and/or develop their craft. The institute is housed on the campus of Presbyterian Day School (PDS), an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis.