Victoria Fleischer: The Sacrifices They Make, 2010-2011

Victoria Fleischer

Introduction by Victoria Fleischer

“Education is a prerequisite for survival in America today.” —Ismail Aburrashid, an alternative education instructor in Dorchester

The Sacrifices They Make
Stories of College Bound Educators

In today’s climate, higher education is critical. In Dorchester, Massachusetts, only 20 percent of sixteen- to nineteen-year-old high school dropouts were employed between 2004–2005, while 83 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree were employed. And yet, in Dorchester, over 40 percent of high school students drop our every year and less than 25 percent of adults have a college degree.

In September, I began my Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship with College Bound Dorchester (DCB), a nonprofit working to improve Dorchester educational levels as a means of enhancing quality of life within the neighborhood. CBD offers a variety of educational programs and services to help individuals ranging in age from three months to seventy years who have fallen off the track to higher education.

Within my first week working with College Bound, I was immediately and emphatically struck by the educators who dedicate their lives to their students. As I started to learn more about the organization and its programming, I began to understand that each group of students required a particular kind of individual to teach them successfully. Yet it also became apparent that these diverse staff members share a common call to duty. A great teacher is priceless, and CBD educators make immense efforts toward an extremely important cause.

For my documentary project, I chose one individual from each program in an effort to learn more about their lives and the motivations behind the work they do. Their stories reflect the passion and dedication that these educators display daily on the job, and highlight the difficulties of living in an inner city environment. It is my hope that this project celebrates these people and gives a face to the teachers who are fighting tremendous odds day after day. I am honored that these individuals let me into their lives, and I truly appreciate their openness with me.

This project was made possible by the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship Program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, with generous support from the Philanthropic Initiative and the Jessica Jennifer Cohen Foundation. I would like to thank the subjects of this project—Susan MacDonald, Leslie Moore, Ismail Abdurrashid, and Mila Monteiro—for their willingness to work with me. I would also like to thank the staff and students at CBD for eagerly welcoming me into their classrooms. Finally, I would like to thank Liisa Ogburn, Alex Harris, Sherrie Walker, and Elena Rue, who helped me give life to this project.

Victoria Fleischer

Victoria Fleischer

Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow 2010-2011

Victoria Fleischer comes to the Hine Fellowship through her undergraduate work at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. She graduated in spring 2010 with a major in public policy and a Certificate in Documentary Studies.