August To June
Directed by Tom & Amy Valens
Visit the film site for screenings and DVDs : www.augusttojune.com
PBS’s John Merrow reviews August to June on his blog Taking Note.
Intimately and exuberantly, this feature length documentary brings us into the lives of 26 third and fourth grade students who still look forward to school! Tom and Amy Valens capture a year in a progressive public school willing to go against current trends in order to teach the whole child. .
While policymakers may associate improving public schools with accountability measured by standardized tests, a great number of educators and parents have noted that this focus has led to “basic skills” eclipsing all the other functions of school. Joy in learning, sense of belonging, creative expression, and self-confidence are not easy things to measure, but they are visible and palpable in the vibrant community of learners that we follow. No statistics here, just individuals whose academic and emotional growth is evident.
Tom Valens has been involved in film and video since the mid 1960’s, working as a cameraman and editor for television news and documentary departments, for independent producers, and for himself. As editor, his films have won local and national Emmys as well as an Academy Award nomination. Recent documentary films that he filmed and edited include InSpirit (2001) about quadriplegic activist Aneice Taylor, Leaf and Water (2003) about Chinese teas, and Nuclear Deception (2005.) To Make A Difference (1985), winner of a CINE Golden Eagle and a Silver Screen Award, was widely used by schools of education.
Amy Valens began her teaching career in 1968 in the public schools of Dayton Ohio. After a brief stint teaching in an independent Summerhill based school in Los Angeles, she returned to public school teaching in Northern California. She joined the Open Classroom of the Lagunitas School District in 1974. Amy is the author of two children’s books Jesse’s Daycare, (Houghton Mifflin 1990), and Danilo The Fruit Man ( Dial, 1993). She retired from full time teaching in June of 2006.