merican schools are on the front lines in a profound struggle for the future. Created for an Industrial society, in the Information age, they are not working as well as they used to. And the debates rage over how to fix them. Countless remedies are being tried and despite more testing and higher state standards, graduation rates have fallen to unacceptable levels. Today, more is expected from students, which means more is expected from their teachers.
The Game Changers is the story of a unique initiative to transform American classrooms by focusing on teachers and the universities charged with training them. In 2009, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation brought to Indiana a unique and new initiative that would identify and select high ability people in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), fund their training at select universities willing to significantly alter existing teacher training approaches, and create new teacher preparation programs that focus skills and knowledge needed for the future.
There was a beekeeper, a biologist, a newspaper editor and a retired business executive. They were engineers and new college grads. Sixty individuals from all walks of life were selected to become the first Woodrow Wilson Indiana teaching fellows. Each would receive $30,000 stipends in exchange their completion of the newly created masters degree programs. Then they would go to work in schools that needed them the most.
They would be on the leading edge of educational reform; at times the bleeding edge. They would be The Game Changers if they could survive the journey. WFYI followed some of these remarkably capable people for two years – from their initial selections through their first teaching assignments.
Who knew their journeys would be so challenging? Could they make the difference in the lives of students? Can they make a difference in improving American schools?
Emmy-winning producer Kim Jacobs follows these extraordinary individuals as they embark on careers that will change the lives of thousands of students in Indiana's high-need rural and urban schools.