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‘Dateline: The Education of Ms. Groves’

Jan 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

With No Child Left Behind in the national spotlight, “Dateline’s” “The Education of Ms. Groves” was an illuminating portrait of an idealistic, 21-year-old college graduate facing the tough realities of teaching in an inner-city school.
Initially conceived by NBC correspondent Sarah James (who stepped down for personal reasons and was replaced by reporter Hoda Kotb) and “Dateline” producer Izhar Harpaz, the program—executive produced by David Corvo—first needed to find the right teacher to profile.
Mr. Harpaz contacted Teach for America, an organization that recruits college graduates to teach for two years in difficult schools. They provided him with a list of potential candidates, and Monica Groves was the fourth phone call he made.
“Two minutes into my conversation with Monica, I knew I found who I wanted, because she seemed incredibly honest with herself, able to balance idealism with a dose of reality,” he said. “I had no inkling that she’d be one of the best characters I’d ever worked with, if not the best.”
The school’s principal, Thomas Kenner, also gave the “Dateline” crew extraordinary access to the classroom, where they shot 90 days throughout the school year. “We slowly realized we were able to show an educational journey in process, and it was important for us to be there,” said Mr. Harpaz. “We were also able to show the challenges that low-income children have to overcome, and we realized we were going against stereotypes about minority children and education. Many of them succeeded despite the challenges. It was the system that failed them.”
Early in the semester, Ms. Groves assigned her students to write a poem expressing who they were. The “Dateline” crew shot seven children reciting their poems, and three emerged as the story’s main focus: feisty Maya, quiet Steve and confident Drew. Their stories revealed a father in jail, a homeless family living in a motel room and other behind-the-scenes tragedies that pervade these children’s lives.
Another production challenge was carving a story out of 150 hours of footage, following Ms. Groves’ arc from energetic optimist to self-proclaimed “tyrant,” angry and impatient with disruptive students, and finally to a more peaceful, realistic middle way, insisting on attention and excellence without resorting to anger.
Since “The Education of Ms. Groves” was shot, the profiled children have gone on to high school and are doing well, said Mr. Harpaz. Ms. Groves left to get her master’s degree in education at Harvard. She also got lucrative offers from the William Morris Agency and production companies that wanted to make a series based on her life.
“She went back to teach at the same school and same grade,” reports Mr. Harpaz. “She’s the real thing. My instinct about her was really correct.”
Credits: Hoda Kotb, reporter; Izhar Harpaz, Shayla Harris, producers; Ellen Mason, senior producer; Deanna DiMuro, Serene Fang, Henning Fog, Sarah Gregory, associate producers; Francisco Bido, editor; Liz Cole, executive editor; David Corvo, executive producer; Steve Capus, president, NBC News

42 Comments

  1. does anyone know if I can purchase a copy of the entire series of ‘The Education of Ms. Groves’?

  2. I also am interested in purchasing a copy of the entire series of ‘The Education of Ms. Groves’?

  3. Tonight I watched your show and it caused me to be filled with pride that our schools are fortunate to have the likes of Ms. Groves in them. This young teacher should be an inspiration to all of the new teachers who think they can easily make a difference in our children’s lives. Ms. Groves certainly learned at least as much as each of her students in her first year of teaching. The amount of growth that was experienced in that one year was almost immeasurable!! And…the most important thing that we all should have learned from the show is that we have to LISTEN to each other and HEAR what is being said. Thank you so much for showing this amazing story. Watching the outcomes through my tears, I was thankful that these children had Ms. Groves cross their path! Good luck to all of them.

  4. How can I purchase a copy of the dateline show?

  5. I would love a copy for my student teachers to see…anyone know how?

  6. I would love to purchase a copy of the entire program to show to our faculty during an in-service program for reactions/discussions.

  7. i would like to purchase a copy the entire series of the education of ms. groves – please help

  8. I would like to purchase an entire set of the series about Ms. Groves. How do you purchase it?

  9. Me, too! Looking to purchase the series. I want to share it with my 94-year-old mother-in-law, a retired teacher, who daily models the transformative power of positive reinforcement. This is a wonderful documentary!

  10. We all agree that we’d like a copy. Has anyone found a way to get it?

  11. I am very interested in purchasing a copy of this video as well.

  12. I, too, am trying to get a copy of this video. I have had no luck. I have contacted MSNBC. I was told they don’t have copies available. I have located the series shown on the Sundance Channel (www.SundanceChannel.com) via the internet, I think. I have not been able to understand how this website works. If anyone knows how to get a copy, please share with me!! Thanks!

  13. I would love to have a copy to share with my faculty. Has anyone had any luck getting one? I even looked on youtube and no luck. I too have called Dateline with no luck other than the written transcripts which are not nearly as moving as the video. The person I spoke with did not know if or when it would air again either. Any input would be wonderful!!!! Thank you for any information in obtaining a copy.

  14. DITTO TO ALL COMMENTS SO FAR. I would love to purchase a copy of this series for my daughter and have not been able to find any information on this either. My daughter just started her first teaching job (in an underprivileged area) and I know this would be of tremendous value to her. We were able to watch the very beginning but that is it. I watched the entire series, she hasn’t.

  15. I would like to find out how to purchase a copy of the video “The Education of Ms. Groves”.

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