Martin Institute Presents: The Hobart Shakespeareans - a Film by Mel Stuart

Memphis, TN

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“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: