Beyond the Blackboard (2011) - full transcript

A 24-year-old first-time teacher overcomes her initial fears and prejudices and makes a difference in the lives of the homeless children she teaches in a shelter's makeshift classroom.

Beyond the Blackboard
Original Air Date on April 24, 2011

== sync, corrected by elderman ==

All right, everybody,
that's the last

we're going to talk about
our home state of Utah today.

I have something special...

I always wanted
to be a teacher.

I loved the giant
pull-down maps

and the way brand-new
textbooks smelled.


Hope you studied up.

I know you did, Miss Stacey.

I loved writing my name
at the top of the page,

as though I was someone
who counted.

...and some of the
other planets, as well.

All right, everybody,

here is a picture
of Earth from outer space.

This is a picture of Mars.

School was the safe place
where I had a glimpse

of who I wanted to be.

This is a picture of our solar
system way, way out in space.

I don't punch a clock!

I don't get out at 5:00 and rush
on home to my wife,

who doesn't even cook anymore!

They don't give me overtime!

It's salary! What do you want me
to do?! I don't play all...

Then come home and help!

I don't play all...
I don't play all...

Hey, Stacey, good luck.

Hey, girl.

I always loved school.

And at 16...

I quit.

You graduated U of U
in December?

Yes, sir.
You did well,

Ms. Bess, but I can see it took
you a long time to do it.

Uh, well, uh, my high school
sweetheart and I married young,

and I quit school.

But once I got my G.E.D.,

everything moved
very quickly.

Though juggling college
and family

required some flexibility.

As you know,
there's not many jobs

for someone just out of school.

Are you prepared

to teach one through six?

Yes, sir.

Every grade-- one through six?

Yes, absolutely.

I like your enthusiasm,

I do. I need

I need somebody
who loves to teach.

Well, I... I have wanted
to be a teacher

ever since I can remember.
And I'm ready.

Our term started

January 5.
We're already two weeks

into the semester.

If I assign you this class,

I'm going to need your
unqualified commitment

for the rest
of the school year.

Of course.

You'll have to start tomorrow.
Can you do that?

That's fine. Yes, absolutely.

Here's the address.

What school is it?

Uh, it doesn't

have a name.
It's a new

program for
homeless students.

Oh, that's wonderful.

Yeah, it is.

For personal reasons, our
teacher needed some time off.

You'll report to the substitute,
Ms. Trumble, at 9:00 tomorrow.

Congratulations, Ms. Bess.

That's it?

That's it.

Thank you.

I'm done!

Hey, you ask her.



Did you understand
everything in your homework?

Can Brandon and I play now?

In 33 minutes,

it's bathtub and PJs.

Come on, come on!

Hey, everybody, I'm home.

Daddy's home.

Here's your glasses.

Put your PJs on, okay?

I'm freezing!

"Harry laughed as he

"chased the bubbles.

"More of them scooped up

"his cars and his planes
and his shoes.

"Bloop went his books,
and bloop went his whirligigs.

"And then all of a sudden,
a giant bubble blooped

"and swept up...


and it carried him
up and away."

There he goes into space.

One day, I'll be in space.

Mom, are you nervous
about tomorrow?

No, I'm not nervous.
You know why?

Because I'm well prepared,
and when we're well prepared

and we work hard,

then we can be confident.

Mwah! Good night.
I love you.

All right, which hand?

Which hand?

Oh, fun.

Um, left.

No, right, right, right, right.

Actually, it's so big,
it's in both.

What is this?

It's to keep
your papers in.

It's so teacher-y.
Thank you!


My-my second grade teacher,
Mrs. Linsky, had one of those,

and, uh... she was the woman
of my dreams.

Oh, really?

Yeah, until I met you.


You're going to do
great tomorrow.

Thank you.

I didn't
do anything!

Are you lost?

Where you trying
to get to?

Excuse me. I'm-I'm...

looking for 600 South Street.

You the new teacher?


You're in the right place.

I got the teacher.

Why's she driving away from me?

Park it right there.


Hey, what's with
the wire cage?

That's to put
the kids' papers in.

'Cause it ain't big enough
to hold my kid.

What's your name?

Uh, Stacey.

You look awful young, Stace.
How old are you?

She looks like
she's 16.

17, tops.
I'm 24.

What are your

We gotta know
your credentials

if you're going
to teach our kids.

Well, this is my first...

What? What'd she say?
What'd you say, Stacey?

I... This is my first job.

Ah, well, at least
she's honest.

Honey, you ain't got
nowheres to go but up.

Joe, why don't you escort
the lady to school?
This way.

I like your shoes.

Step aside, folks.

Teacher coming through.

Thank you.
Excuse me.



Step aside.
Teacher coming through.

Thank you.

Right this way.
Excuse me.

Thank you.

Let's set some
ground rules here.
Hey, Johnny!


We got our teacher.

Thank you, Joe.
Thank you.

Look, I don't like

to judge a book
by its cover...

but there's no tolerance
for drug use.

No drugs, no booze,

no exceptions.

You're high, you're out.

Am I understood?

We're clean.
We're good.

Hi. I'm Johnny.

Joe, would you please

find Ms. Trumble?
Thank you.

Excuse me.
My-My name is Stacey Bess.

I'm supposed to report
to a school.

Are you in charge here?

I don't know if I'd
call it in charge,

but I'm here and you're here
and you're in the right place.

I don't think I...
Hold that thought.

I'll find you
this afternoon. I...

I've got a dozen families
out there freezing

that I need to process.

May I use your phone?

Yeah, dial nine
to get out.

...a brand-new car!

Dr. Ross's office.

Yes, Dr. Ross, please.

What is this regarding?

Uh, it's regarding the fact that

I've just reported
to my first day of teaching.

And this is--
this is not a school.

This is a...
more like a warehouse,

and um, well, it's an emergency.

Just a minute.
I'll see if I can connect you.

You're the new teacher?

Dr. Ross isn't available.
Could we get started here?

May I take a message?
Um, I'll call you back, okay?



This way.

This is your classroom.

Um, where are the children?


I've been begging for weeks
to get somebody down here.

And I...

The keys.

These will open
the side door

from the hall
and the padlock outside.

Keep them locked.


Hello! Keys.

Every morning, you
do a head count.

Then you call that number
for sack lunches.

Wait an hour to do the count.
They come in late.

Any spare lunches,
you're to throw away.

Food Services does not want
the families freeloading

off the lunch program.

There's no principal
and there's no counselor,

so discipline is
entirely up to you.

Wh-What about, um, Johnny?

What about him?

He doesn't work for the school.

It's his job to find rooms
for those people,

but there are not enough beds
and there are not enough rooms,

so half the kids slept
in their cars

last night.
When they get out of control,

try turning the lights off.
Show a movie.

Those are the Shame Names.
Nobody likes

to have their name
on the board.

And if it gets really bad,
you call the police.

What about books?

What books are you using?

You count the kids, you get
some lunch in their bellies,

you keep them off the street.

If you want books,
there are some there.

No, no, I-I mean textbooks.

What's your class plan?

I made a class plan
for six grades, so...

Are you are not getting this?
Because I am sensing hostility

here, and I do not
deserve hostility.

No. No, no, no, I'm not,

I'm not being hostile.
I mean, I don't feel hostile.

Okay, I'm fine, I'm fine.

I came in

as a one-day substitute,

and that turned into
two weeks of living hell.

There's no support
from the so-called parents,

and the kids behave
like animals.

I'm a teacher,
but this is not teaching.

This is babysitting kids
on their way to juvie.

So, good luck.

Okay, come to class, everybody!


That's the sound of the magic
bell! Let's go! Come on!

Young man, put that cigarette
out! No, yes!

I'm talking to you!
Put that out right now!

Thank you.
Okay, come on. Let's go.

Let's go. Ladies and gentlemen,
in the classroom.

Where'd the witch go?

Witch took off. Clown came in.

Let's go, let's go,
let's go, let's go.

Come on, come on, come on.

My name is Ms. Bess,
and I will be your new teacher.

Hi. What's your name?

Maria. I just got here.

Hi, Maria. I'm
new here, too,

so why don't you have a seat?

This is the first
day for both of us.

In your seat, please.

Sit down in your chair.

Thank you.

My name is Ms. Bess,
and I'm your new teacher.

You already said that.

I brought along
a little something;

some things so that you guys
could get to know me.

It's a photo album.

This right here
is my family.

My husband Greg and that's
my little girl Nicole,

and my little boy Brandon.

Is that your house?

This? Oh, no, this-- this is
the lodge that we stayed at

on our winter vacation.

We skied there,

we went sledding,
made some snowmen.

Does anyone else here
like to make snowmen?


What's a snowman?

Um... who wants to share
what they did on their holiday?

Yes, please, share.

We got to see our dad.

You did? What's your name?

Becca, what fun things
did you do with your dad?

We got to eat
with him in jail.

Did not.
Yeah, we did.

Yeah, we did.
They had tons of food.

And Santa was there.

Shut your mouth!
There's no Santa in jail.

Santa Claus is way too busy
to go to jail.

All right, all right, all right,

let's, let's continue
with the story.

Uh, my story...

My story began with my love
of learning.

It's just a train.

It doesn't happen that much.
Mostly at night.

Okay, no, no, no, it's okay!
It's okay! Calm down!

Just get back! Get back!

It's a jumper!


Come on, come on, come on!
Go, go, go!

Oh, no!

Okay, okay, okay.

Come on, come on, come on...!

It's okay, it's okay...

Sit down.

She didn't scream
or nothing.

Sorry we couldn't
talk this morning.

When it gets
cold out there,

we get busy.

So how'd it go?

Well, I put a cinder block
over the hole

in the floor out of which
a rat came running

when the train
came through.

And that's just how
the day started.

Good job.

How'd you do?


I was pathetic.

I was a lady up there
pretending to be a teacher.

The kids saw right through me.

Okay, one thing
that absolutely does

not work here is wallowing
in your own anxiety.

I'm not wallowing.

It's not a criticism,
just an observation.

I'm leaving.

And for the record,
the kids are fascinated by you.

Fascinated. I'm sure.

You showed up,
you tried all day.

To these kids, it means a lot.

See you tomorrow.

Hi, I'm home!

Mommy's here!

Mommy's gonna go wash up, okay?

Why has Mommy
been crying?


It's not what I expected.

If I go back tomorrow,
it's for one reason:

I don't want our kids
to see me quit.

If you leave your name and
number, and a brief message,

I or my assistant will get
back to you promptly.

Dr. Ross, this is Stacey Bess
calling again.

This is the third time
that I'm calling.

I haven't heard back from you
or anybody else

regarding desks or books.

We have no desks
or books.

So if somebody
could please... me back.

I'm okay, I'm okay.

Okay, so what I want you
to do is write

your name
at the top of the test,

and answer as many questions
as you can.

Excuse me, sir,
class has already started.

Maria left her jacket.

Thanks, Papi.

You do well now.

Thank you.

Danny, Grace, Becca can you
please try to be on time?

It's disruptive to the rest
of the class when you're late.

And please take off your hat,
Danny. Thank you.

Okay, what we have here is
a test.

I want you to write your name
at the top.

Pass them back to Danny, please.
And in the blank space,

how old you are.

I need a pencil.

Okay, I'll get you a pencil.

I need a pencil, too.

Okay, Maria, one moment.

Just pass that back.

Here we go. There you are.


All right, listen up everybody.

I created this test to determine
your grade level,

so it's very important that
you answer as many questions

as you can, all right?

All right, let's begin
the test... now.

What's up, Sam?

My stomach hurts.

Didn't eat.

Sorry, sweetie,
I can't understand you.

Okay, I'm sorry.

Okay, um...
Sam's hungry.

Did you have breakfast?

Well, you know what?

I actually happen to have
a granola bar in my pocket.

So why don't you guys
share this,

and then we'll have
an early lunch, okay?

Does that sound good?

Hey, hey, come on!

Come on. Let's go! Come on!

We're taking a test.

Don't give me lip.
I said let's go! Come on!

Um, excuse me.
We're taking a test right now.

And they have chores to do.

Your children
are taking a test.

They're in school.

Who are you?

I'm the new teacher.

Oh. Well, Barbie,
I'm the mother. Come on.

I said let's go.
Up now! Get your coats.

Come on! Come on!

What am I supposed to do, huh?

Okay, um, you know what?

Everybody, continue your tests.
I'll be right back, all right?

Excuse me. Excuse me.


Step! Step!

My girls have got

And it's your

as their mother
to keep them in school.

And you'd better stay out
of my face! Come on, girls.

We're outta here!

Come on. Come on,
what are you doing?

What can you do?

I'm Patricia...
shelter nurse.

I'm Stacey,
the new teacher.

Yeah, I got that.

Tomorrow I'll bring you
a gamma shot.

Everybody working
here gets one,

what with all the nasty things
going around. Flu,

hepatitis, tuberculosis.


When people don't know
how to be polite.

So when's a good time
for me to see your kids?

We have a big epidemic
in all the trailers. Head lice.

Um... well, we're taking
a test right now,

so why don't I let you
know when we're done?

Sure thing.
Okay, thanks.

Give me my test back!

You guys, give it back!
Here, here!

Give it back!
Want it? Want it?

Give me my test back!

Hey, hey, hey, what is
going on in here?

You're supposed to
be taking a test.

I finished the test.
He stole my test.

Why would you steal--
look what you did to her test.

Okay, everybody sit down.

Because I said so.
Sit down.

Hmm. Where do I
want to sit?

Danny, I'm warning you.
Get to your seat, right now.

I have my seat right here.

Wanna see it?

Okay, you know what?
I am working

very hard here, and it's bad
enough without having to

deal with your nonsense.
Now sit your butt down,

and get to work, too. Go.

Alex, go. Come on.

Everybody to your seats.

All right. You have three
minutes to finish your test,

and then we're doing
our lice check.

It stinks.

I know, sweetie, I'm sorry.

Why do we
have to do this?

Because the nurse found lice
in Mommy's hair at school.

Actually, it was a louse.

One louse, two lice.

Kind of like one mouse,
two mice.

Why isn't it
one house, two hice?

Huh. "Hice."

We have lice in the hice.

Lice in the hice!

The kids are tucked in.

I'll be right back.

Where you going?

Video store.
I need some movies.

Here's the thing:

You can never judge,
never, ever judge.

You know, I thought
that substitute teacher

was horrible.
And shame on me.

Tomorrow I'm going to prop
those kids in front of the TV.

You don't even let
our kids do that.

I'm not saying that
I'm happy about it.

But I have to subdue these kids
until I come up with a plan.

I mean, look at my basket.

The tests are
all over the place.

I don't even know
where to start.

I may have been
trained to teach

one through six, but I was
not trained to teach

every grade at the same time,

without desks, without books...
I mean, it's chaos.

Those kids may have been
terrible today,

but I was worse;
I was a raving, crazy person.

Six years of school
did not prepare me for this.

What about eight years
of motherhood?

You got plenty of experience.
We got two great kids upstairs.

Maybe I should just
stay home with them,

until I get a normal job
at a normal school.

You gonna quit?

You. You are going to bend over
that sink when I get back,

and I'm going to de-louse you.

Ooh, how'd I get so lucky?

So, my kid says that you gave
him what-for in class yesterday.

Danny is your son?

Yeah, that's right.

I am truly sorry
that I yelled at him.

I know it was wrong,
and I apologize.

No, you know
what? I know

that my boy is smart, and
I know that he can learn

really good, and I just think

that he needs a teacher

that will keep him in line.

So, you just...

keep on riding him.

That's okay.


Hi, Patricia.

I brought a gamma shot for you.

Okay, I'll be right there.

Any chance you
could be pregnant?


Just to make sure.

From Hollywood,

everyone's favorite game
of strategy,

knowledge and fun.

It's Tic Tac Dough...


There you go.

Mama, can we play outside?

Good morning, Danny.

You're here early.

My mom says I have
to talk to you.

I'm sorry I acted
up yesterday.

Well, I wanted
to apologize to you, too.

I'm sorry for losing my temper.

So, we're good?

We're good.

Where's the TV?

What... Someone
took the TV!

Another $200 into the pot.

Now worth $1,600.

Okay, in the past three minutes,
somebody went

into the classroom
and took the TV and the VCR.

Who was it?

Oh, come on.

Whoever it was walked
right past here.

Who took it?

Okay, well,

if you're not going to tell me,
then I'm just

going to have to take this.

I'm watching
my favorite program.

Well, I'm sorry.

Whoa, whoa. That's heavy.

Don't hurt yourself, now.

This woman's nuts.

Come on, Miss Stacey.
Just let it go.

Danny, do you know who took it?

You opened the door for them.

I opened the door
for them? Who?

We got to find Johnny
and tell him what happened.

I'm not telling Johnny.
I'm not telling you.

Not unless you promise
not to go after anyone.

It's not the way
we do things here.

You got to calm down.

Okay, I'm calm. I'm calm.

Listen, I promise.
You have my word.

I won't tell anybody.
Just tell me who took it.

Jack and Terry.

Jack and Terry.
Who's Jack and Terry?

You don't know them,
and they don't know you.

And they won't
be coming back.

Well, where did they go?

TV's gone,
and they're gone.

You can bet that
they've already traded it

for crack down the street.

It's just
the way it is.

They don't care
about our school.

We're not their kids,

and they don't care about us.


But we care.

Let's go inside. It's cold.


I'll be right there.

Will you go tell everyone
to sit down and wait for me?

You're not going to tell?

I gave you my word.

Now, will you give me yours?
That you'll go in there

and you'll be a good example
to the other kids?


You be the leader.

Okay. Can we do
this quickly?

No Gamma shot for you, mama.

You're pregnant.

Ms. Bess.

Dr. Ross.

The baby's due in September,

so I'll work until June,

and finish out the semester,

which I promised you I would.



What's this?

This is a list
of things that I need

so I can do my job.

The first items
are basics: books,

lights, desks;

and then there
are secondary items

that I want the kids
to have: art supplies,

um, science equipment,
maps, things like that.

Ms. Bess,

I'm the personnel director.

It's my job to hire teachers.

Text books-- Dr. Louie.

Well, Dr. Louie
wants authorization

from a principal;
I don't have a principal.

That's technically true.

Desks and lights require
a custodian's report.

Who's my custodian? I mean,
do I have one, technically?

I'll bring this to the
attention of the administration.

Thank you, Ms. Bess.

When? When will you bring it
to their attention?

At our next meeting.

Okay, well, until your
next meeting, what do you say

we poke around the closets here
and see what we can use?

You don't have the
faintest idea of protocol.


No, sir, I-I... I don't.

And I-I don't have the faintest
clue what's going on here,

so you might have
to catch me up,

because I don't
understand why I'm not

teaching these kids
in a regular school.

The program was created
because the organization

that runs the shelter
and our school district

have this problem.
Without transfer papers

and immunization records,

we can't enroll these
homeless students.

Your class is a
stop-gap measure.

Have you been there?
Have I...

Have you been to the school?


My responsibility is to fill
every teaching position

in this district, not...

You're busy.

So would you please
find me a supervisor?

I will do that.

And I will pass
along to him

your suggestions.
Thank you.

In the meantime,

keep in mind that you're
providing emergency schooling

to transient students.

They will not be there
that long,

and in truth, Ms. Bess,
neither will you.

You know the school
doesn't even have a name?

I had all these big
ideas about teaching.

You know, my classroom was
gonna be this amazing place

where kids felt safe
and knew they belonged.

But I've learned some not
good things about myself.

Poverty disgusts me,

and I'm afraid of it.

And I'm not doing my
best for those kids.

Why are you smiling?

I've been waiting
for you to get riled up.

You think this
is riled up?

Before this baby's born,
you've got one season to play.

Think you're gonna
kick some butt?

You're streaking it.


You need newspaper.

You really need
to finish painting

before you do the windows.

I'll help.

It's good
you're fixing things up,

Miss Stacey, 'cause I don't
want to hurt your feelings,

but this is the sorriest school
I've ever seen.

Can I clean the blackboard?

It's filthy, right?

You think there's hope
for that blackboard?

There'd better be, 'cause

that's the only one
we have to write on.

Then you go right ahead.

Do you have
any kids here, Joe?

Why are you laughing?
Miss Stacey, I have

a grandchild here.

Yes, ma'am, I have a grandson.

Spitting image.

He's the handsome one.

Hmm. I'll have to
think about that one.

Is that a dog?

That's a cow.

Hold on.

Hold on a minute.

What's wrong with my cow?

When did you know you
wanted to be a teacher?

'Cause I'm gonna be a teacher.

Mi abuela-- that's my
grandmother-- she said

I could make my letters
when I was just a baby.

And you know what?

I made A-pluses
in handwriting.

You did?

Where is your abuela?

El Paso. I lived
there most

of my life until Papi decided
we should go to Idaho.

But you know what?
It's cold in Idaho.

Ah. Nelson,

Miss Stacey
needs somebody

who can draw a cow.

Well, that's a dog.

Well, that's
what I told her.

I just wanted to make some art
to lighten things up in here,

and put them up on the
walls, but I'm not...

I'm not much of an artist.
A cow?

Yeah, a cow, but I-I
don't want to take up

any of your time.

Well, you want a
Holstein? Jersey?

Brahma? Longhorn?

A black and white cow.

You want a sad cow?

Happy cow? Thoughtful cow?

A happy cow.
A happy,

black and white cow.

What did I tell you?


That's amazing!

You think you could draw
a rooster after this?

Do you want a proud rooster?

A fighting rooster?

Or a little skinny rooster
scratching in the dirt?

How about a
colorful rooster?



Um, can I borrow your truck

Why? What's up?

I need to pick up some supplies.

Didn't you already
buy supplies?

Mm, yes, but that was
for painting and cleaning.

This is for my kids.

And you need the truck?

Aren't you going to be spending
more than you make?

No, I promise--
I'm done after this. Promise.

Are you sure you want
to make that promise?

Yes, I am.

Give them to me. Thanks.

Glad you're home.

You getting overtime?

Am I what?

Is somebody paying
you overtime

for coming here
on a weekend?

Did the school
pay for those?

Uh, no.

I told you, Dee.

She's just doing this for
our kids. Come on, hey.

Ready? One, two.

Here. I got it.
Thank you.

Where do you want it?
Just over here.

Up and at 'em.

Rise and shine.

Time to get up.

Here we go.


Okay, did you pack
your homework?


And can you please
drink your milk?

Mwah. Thank you.

Mwah. I love you.
Bye, Mommy.

And I love you.

Go get 'em.

Time to wake up, everybody!

Let's go. School starts
in half an hour!

Come on. School starts
in half an hour! Let's go.

Rise and shine, everybody!

Half an hour.
Let's wake up.

Morning! Come on,
let's wake up, everybody.

Come on, we're
not starting

without you. Wake up!

Let's go!

You, too!

Rise and shine,

everybody. Let's
go. Good morning,

Danny. Come on,
you've got 30 minutes.

I guess
we'd better get dressed.

Let's go. Come on,

Excuse me. I have
an announcement to make.

Uh, I'm watching that.

This school may be in a shelter,
but it is still

a public school, so from now on,

there will be no interruptions
once class is in session.

And please see to it that
your kids are in class on time.


Uh, Maria, can you please
write the date on the board?


Okay, ladies and gentlemen,
welcome to your new classroom.

Whoa, what happened?

It's pretty cool, huh?

Come on in.



Am I dreaming?

What do you think?

This is to post all of the
good work that you do.

But first things first.

I have fruit cups and milk,

so if anybody's hungry,
raise your hand.

Okay, um, Danny,

will you pass out
the fruit cups?

Maria, can you please
pass the spoons?

Thank you.

So, we're gonna do things

a little bit differently
this week.

We're gonna start
by talking about

anything that is
important to you.

But only one person speaking
at a time,

and everybody in the circle
has to be polite.

Everybody agree with those
rules, raise your hand.

Okay, good.

So, I'd like to start

by talking about last week.

Last week,

I lost my temper quite a bit,

and it wasn't respectful.

Maybe we should talk about that.

Um, what it means
to be respectful.

Yes. Angel.

Like, you don't get

in somebody's face.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Like that.

Like you're messing
with somebody.

That's right.
That's not respectful.


I don't think it's good to yell.

You're right.
Yelling is not good.

I'm very sorry for yelling.

I don't think it's right to
do something over and over,

like messing with somebody
or not listening.

That's not
showing respect.

You're right.

See, we have to be respectful

of our fellow classmates
because we want

to have a safe, quiet, calm

learning environment, right?

So, that is our first word.

It's a descriptive word.

An adjective.


Grace, do you want to
pin it on the board?

Thank you.

Anyone else have anything
they want to share?

Last night,

we went to this store,

and my mom wasn't doing nothing,

and cops were messing
with her, like,

"Get out of here,"
like she's a piece of trash.

So you felt like

the policemen weren't
being respectful to your mom.

How do you feel when you're
around policemen?


I know a nice policeman.


My mother locked us
in the basement.

It was dark,
and a policeman found us,

and he carried us up,
'cause we couldn't walk.

'Cause we didn't have anything
to eat, and...

That's why we don't see
our mother anymore.

That must have
been really scary.

She held my hand.


Who would like
to see some magic?



and blue...




Yellow and red become...


It's okay.

There we go.

This is yours to keep.

Let's look.

Look how pretty you are.

There we go.

Miss Stacey?


I made this for you.

Wow. Alex,

this is exquisite.


That's really beautiful. I'm
going to put it on the board.

Thank you.

Hey, why'd you push me?

Quit it!
You quit it!

Hey! Hey. Hey. Stop it.

Everybody, back to work.
Boys, come up here.

What's going on?

He pushed me
for no reason.

Danny, why would
you push Alex?

I don't know.

Well, I'm really confused
as to why you'd do that.

You're confused?

I'm confused.

I'm also

a little...
anxious and perplexed.

Go sit down.

And apologize to each other.


How come you want us
to learn that?

Because if you know it,
then it's yours.

♪ ♪

This was an attack cat.

Not an attack dog.
This was an attack cat.

For real.
And I'm, like, running

and running as fast as I can

from this kitten,
and it's, like,

barking at me, like,
"Meow, meow, meow!"

And I'm yelling at everybody,

Run faster!
It'll get you. Run!"

"Run even faster. Run""

Miss Stacey, Miss Stacey!

Here you go.

Yes, ma'am.

Come on, everybody, get up!
School in 20 minutes!

Come on, everybody!

Get up!
School in 20 minutes!

Come on, everybody, get up!
School in 20 minutes!

Hi, boys.

Fill up the cupboard,

Here are the keys.

Morning, Johnny.

Heads up. Six more children
came in last night.

Excuse me?


My name is Stacey Bess,

and I'm here
to report a situation

that is unacceptable.

Are you a teacher?
Yes. I'm trying to be.

At the school that has no name.

At the shelter.

The shelter.

That's a new program.

Yes. Have you been there?


Well, no one has.

Would you like a cup of tea?

I have this new electric teapot
which I've almost mastered.

Uh, is chamomile okay?

Why don't you sit down?


This-- this is
from Danny.

He's with his mom
and his grandpa.

Well, they're great
people, miserable luck.

They put all their
hopes in the boy.

Dana gave me this.

Dana's eight years old.

I gave her a
50-cent headband,

and she gives me her bear.

Her mom's in prison.

She would lock the
kids in the basement

when she had her
boyfriend over.

Kids are with the dad now.

Now, Maria.

Maria wants to be a
teacher when she grows up.

She saw me nibbling
on saltines when I had

some morning sickness.

So, she saved these from
the soup kitchen for me.

Well, it's obvious you've

had a profound effect upon the
lives of three young people.

Three? I have 20 now.

I didn't realize there were
so many children at the shelter.

How can anyone here
not know that?

Every day, I call in with
a head count for lunch.

That goes to Food Services.
That's a separate...

Different department, I know.

I know. I'm sorry.

Listen, I didn't come here to
give you the kids' sob stories.

I came here to talk to you
about their generosity.

I mean, these kids
who have nothing

bring me gifts.

Don't you think we can
do better for them?

I'll see what I can do.


"They bounced off the ceiling
and bumped into the walls.

Then a bubble picked
up Harry's train and..."


"...floated it right
out the window.

"Harry laughed
as he chased the bubbles.

"More of them
scooped up his shoes.

"Bloop, went his books,

"and bloop,

"went his whirligigs
and then all of a sudden,

"a giant bubble blooped

"and swept up...




Hey, you guys!

Happy Valentine's
Day, Daddy.

I love you guys, too.

Come here.
Give me a big hug.

I want you to have this.

Thank you.

It's beautiful.



Come on, you guys!
Come on!

Miss Stacey! Miss Stacey!
Come and see!

Miss Stacey! Come on.

You won't believe this.
You got to see this!

Miss Stacey, come and see!
Miss Stacey, it's so cool!

Come on! I'm so excited!
It's amazing!

Come on!
You won't believe,
Miss Stacey.

What is going on?
I can't believe
what's going on!

You won't believe it!

Come on, come on.

Do you like it,
Miss Stacey?
Isn't it great?

Miss Stacey!
We have desks!

It's cool!
We have a real classroom!

Oh, my goodness.

Well, ladies and gentlemen,

we have books.

Yay! We have books!

Yes, finally got books.

You want to help me
pass these out?

One second.

Thank you.

No, no. Thank you.

We all should have
been here a lot sooner.

You know, it's
not technically

my job description,
but from now on,

you can consider me your
principal and your custodian.


Whatever you need.

Mr. Parker.

What's wrong?

Nothing's wrong.
Sorry to wake you.

I'm just so excited.

I just talked to Dr. Warren,

and he's approved

a teacher's aid salary,
so I was hoping

you'd come work
with us every day.

Oh, I volunteer
for those children.

I wasn't going anywhere.

Well, you're the best
art teacher I've ever had.

I'm the only art teacher
you've ever had.

Miss Stacey!

Maria's in trouble.

Her dad got mean-drunk

and cussed Johnny.

He got kicked out.



Oh, sweetie.

It's okay.
It's okay.


Johnny, you can't kick
Maria's father out.

I already have.

If he goes, Maria goes.

No drinking, no drugs.

Those are the rules.

But what? Establish

encourage responsibility.

That's my job.

I let one person
live outside those rules,

and within a week,
we're skid row.

Johnny, I'm asking you to make
an exception.

It's for Mar... Johnny?!

Within a week,
we're skid row.

Can you believe that? They
won't give me another chance.

I mean, they kick me out
like I'm a dog.

Like I'm not a man. Huh?

Mr. Elizar?

May I talk to you?

I'm Stacey, Maria's teacher.

Yeah, I know who you are.

Where are you
and Maria going to go?

The streets are no place
for your daughter.

Are you trying
to tell me what to do, now?

No. I-I'm trying to help you
in any way that I can.

Do you have a plan?

Look, I don't know what to do.

What if she stays with me?

What if...

What if she stays with me

until you find a safe place
to live?

Why would you do that?

Because you need help.

And Maria needs help.

Your daughter
is 12 years old.

You know better than I
what could happen

to her on the street.

You'll keep her safe?

While I get it together?


I love my girl.

Of course you do.

Keep her safe, right?

No strangers.

Just until I can
get it together.

Once I get a place,
she's with me.

Absolutely. That's the deal.

This is my home phone number.

You can call anytime.



Hi, honey. It's me.

Just wanted
to check in with you.

Um, 'cause I'm not
just bringing home

a gallon of milk tonight.

I'm, um...

Well, I'm bringing home a kid.


You okay, Colie?

You like playing baseball?

I never played it.

Maria, do you want
some more spaghetti?


You can have more. I eat a lot.

I eat tons.

Just don't eat so much that
noodles come out of your nose.

That happened to me once.

That never happened.

Yes, it did.
It did, actually.


I know.

This is my dad's mitt.

You can try this on,
if you want.

They don't have softball
in the third grade,

so I play Little League.

I have the best batting average
in the whole third grade.

I'm not bragging
or anything.

It's just true.

She's good.

Maria, there's an extra blanket

for you here, okay?
And, you two,

I want to see your homework
in a half an hour.

That's what it's like
living with a teacher.

The kids are great about this.

Yeah, I'd expect no less.

Uh, look, do you... do you
really have any reason

to think the father's
going to come back?

Of course he's coming back.


You're getting pretty
deeply involved here.

Well, Maria can't
stay at the shelter

without a guardian, so...

Well, yeah, but aren't
we... aren't we obligated

to call Protective Services?

And try what?

Legally separate them
because they're homeless?

Well, if the father can't
take care of her, then yeah.

Somebody else should.

You know what?

Every day I wait

for someone to sweep on in

and solve the problems
out there.

But there's no Superman coming,

I mean, tag, we're it.


This happened in my classroom,

and I had to do
something about it.

I'm glad you're there.

Okay, in 20 minutes,

I want you sitting
in the reading circle.


Any word from
Maria's father?

Yeah, but it's a lot
of the same, you know.

Why can't these parents
just get it together?

Believe it or not,
most of them

are doing better
than their own parents did.

Oh. Why do they get to use
the terrible childhood excuse?

My childhood wasn't great.
Was yours?

When I first
started work here,

I was frustrated all the time.

I said to myself,
"I am from a poor country.

"What's wrong
with these people?

I pulled myself up."

But you know something?
My judgment didn't help me.

And it didn't change a thing.

Your blood pressure's high.

Why don't you
ask them for help?

The parents.

Yeah, yeah. We'll...

We'll hold a PTA meeting.

Why not?

The parents see
me coming, they hide.

They run away.

They know I'll say,
"Put out that cigarette."

"You have diabetes.
Why are you drinking cola?"

I'm asking something
from them that's harder to give

than money.

I am asking them
to change their habits.

Hi, everybody.

Everyone, have a seat.

Is everybody here?

Well, if we weren't here, we
wouldn't be here to tell you.

Oh, yay. Candy's here.

Are our kids okay,

Your kids are wonderful.

I mean, they're doing great.

But they could be doing better,
so this is why I've called

our first
parent-teacher meeting.


Thank you for coming.


Children in other schools

are doing something
that your kids don't.

And I am completely to blame.

They're doing homework.


And I want your kids

to have every advantage

that we can give them.
So, as of tomorrow,

I'm going to start assigning
homework to the kids.

This is what I need from you.

15 minutes, that's all.
15 minutes a day

whether it's after school
or when you're having supper

at Saint Vincent's,

ask your kids what
they learned that day.

The best part

of their day is sharing
their stories with you.

Okay, and the second thing
that I was thinking--

we can take a vote on this--
is to turn the television room

into a study hall four
afternoons a week for the kids.

What do you mean,
a "study hall"?

Two hours in the afternoon,
the television goes off.

And the kids have a quiet,
calm place

to study and do their homework.

And if you can sit with them,
let them know

that what they're doing
is important.

So, in this study hall,

can we smoke?

I'm just messin' with you.

I'm sorry. No. Okay.

Hour... No, two hours.

Right? Two hours.

No TV, no smoking.

Who's for it?
Up with the hands.

Come on.

Is that up?


Okay. Fors the win...

I am so good at this PTA thing.

I think so.

See, this is already making
my job that much easier.


What would you add
to make a whole? Yes?

A quarter.
A quarter.

High five.

Okay, let's see.

All right, so if I
take away a quarter,

what could you add
to make a whole?

Um... another

Yeah, you did it.

Come here.

Come on, please? Come here.

I got it.

You try to figure
this out, all right?

What else could
you put here?

I need to put my name.

I already got it.


What's it say
right here?

"What previous...


"do you have

in the food service


Put down four years
in picking... No.

Put down four years
in the farm industry.


years... in
the... farm..""

Grace, when you're done

helping your mom, will you
come back to class, please?

Candy, meet me
in my class at 4:00.


Hey, everybody!

Ready to celebrate our first day
of study hall?

Animal crackers.

Lions, tigers, bears, anyone?



So nice!
Step right up.


Here you go.

Thank you.

De nada.

what do you say?

Thank you!


You're late.

You're gonna have me
kicked out of here now?

You're the big teacher
walking around all important?

Candy, do you have
trouble reading?

If you put in the time to learn,
I'll put in the time to teach.

I know
I'm just a beginner,

but I have spent years
studying reading strategies.

You think you saw something.

You think
you know anything about me?

It helps your children
if you know how to read, Candy.

You'd do that?

We could do that.



Be careful with that, honey.
Oh, dropped it!

You got no skills!

What if I taught
until the baby's born?

I mean, what if I
taught this summer?

I didn't know
they had summer school.

They don't.

Um, but I was thinking, if there
was summer school, you know,

the kids could catch up in
areas they lagged behind in.

Did they ask you to do that?

Would you get paid?

No. But if I could

just keep them off the streets
for the summer, you know,

give them a boost
in math and science.

I don't know.

It's just a thought.

Have you ever thought about why
it's so hard for you to stop?

'Cause I've been so lucky.

Someone came into my life

and taught me how to trust

and taught me
to believe in myself.

And you know what?
I'm pretty good at what I do.

You are the best teacher
I've ever had.

What am I supposed
to say after that?

A last hurrah?


You know what I don't
like about summer school?

There's no sports.

What if those kids had a coach?

I love you.

All right! All right,
all right, all right.

There's kids here. Come on.

Go ahead and just set it down
beside the truck, guys.

Dr. Warren,
where did you get this?

Oh, my daughter took
lessons 30 years ago,

and nobody's
touched it since.

No, no, seriously.

Nice truck.

Yeah. I borrowed it

from one of the
guys in Rotary.

Hey, I've got
some good news.

Kids are gonna
have new classrooms

built for 'em next year.

Oh, that's great.

Listen, will you make sure

you find them a great teacher
in September?

I mean, someone
who's more experienced than me.

I would just feel so much better
about leaving here

if you would do that.

I'm working on it.

Well, I'd better see if
this is still in tune.

♪ ♪

Field it,
keep it in front of you,

just roll it back to me,
all right?

Here we go.
Robert, you're first.

Way to keep it
in front of you. Good!


That a girl!

Okay, guys,
here's what we're going to do.

Maria, take those.

Nicole, show her
how to set up the bases, okay?

Start with first.

Good, guys.

That was awesome!

Thank you.
Thank you.

Good job, Mom.

Oh, thank you, honey.

Thank you.

Take it inside, boys.

All right, Danny,
keep your eye on the ball.

Good level swing, all right?

Hang a rope now, babe.
Here we go now, babe!

Here we go now.
Here we go, Danny!

Come on, baby, pitch
it in there.
Come on now, Grace!

Put it in here. Right down
the middle, come on!

Good job! Nice, baby...

Good shot! Yeah!

Come on!
Run it out!
Dig! Dig!

All right, come on, you guys,
let's go, let's go!

Run it out! Come on! Come on,
come on! Go get him!

Run, Sam, run!

Bring 'em around!
You're scoring, you're scoring!

Whoo! Come on, Sam!
Get in here, get in here!



You did it!

Yeah! Nice job, buddy! Nice!
I'm so proud of you!

Magenta-- three,
Viridian-- two.

Come on!
You guys are great!

Come on! Come on!
That's the way, buddy.

Here we go, Nicole.
Here we go, babe.

Elbow up, Nic.

Put it in here now.

Hey, batter, batter, batter...


Yeah! Come on!
Run it out!

Go, go, go, go!
Come on, Grace!

That a boy. That a boy.

Bring it in!
Come on! Come on!


Ay, hija mia!

Ah, mija.

Cómo te extraño.

Papi's back.


Hi, Mr. Elizar.


How are you?

I missed my girl.

She missed you, too.

Can you just give him
another chance?

He's been living
out of his truck.

I made the rules very clear,
and Carlos broke them.


if you give him a room,
then he won't take Maria away.

She can...
She can stay in camp.

She's been thriving here.

Tell him he has a room.

Thank you.

I want you to
have my backpack.

Don't say good-bye, okay?

It's bad luck.

Why does Maria
have to leave?

You know what, sweetie?

She's going to go and
stay with her daddy.

But we're still going to
see her every day at camp.

And we're still going to get
to spend some time together.


So, light from the sun,

plus chlorophyll
in the leaves,

plus carbon dioxide in the air,

combine in photosynthesis

to make food for the plant.

In return, the leaves
release oxygen for us to breath.

I like that.


When you wear the bracelet.

It was you?

It was?

Thank you.

I love it. I wear
it all the time.

Are you guys excited
about the open house tomorrow?


Can't wait to show your parents

all the wonderful work
that you've done.

Bye, Miss Stacey.

Bye. You guys get
a big sleep, okay?

Have an early night.


Bye, Miss Stacey!

See you tomorrow.

So, if there's runners on base,
it's pretty much the stretch.

You start with your
right foot on...

Come on, guys!

And you come to a stop right
here, like...

Go tell your daddy
I'm ready to go.

And you check the runners...

He's still coaching.

And you know, once you see that
the runners are going...

We'll just watch for a bit.

Like a normal pitch.
All right?

Sit with me for a bit.

Have a good day?

Okay, try one, try one.

It's a big belly,
isn't it?

Ooh, nice.

That actually hurt my hand.
Give me five.


That was good!

Hey, Mama.

Have you seen
Carlos and Maria today?

Uh... no, not yet.


What am I looking at?

We built a bridge
out of spaghetti.


When can we eat it?

I'm sorry, go on.

It's all about tensile strength.

One piece, and...

but, all together...

Look at that.

We learned
about photosynthesis.

See those white roots?

Roots anchor the plant
into the soil,

and the root hairs--

that's the tiny,
tiny hair on the roots--

they absorb the water.


What happened to this?

Daddy, what is this called?

Uh, that is an abacus.

They used to use
those in China

before calculators.


Hey. Have you
seen Maria?


I can't find
her anywhere.


If I don't say good-bye,

I can imagine
you're always with me.

Love, Maria.

Please, by Monday
this time, okay?

You're always late.

Yeah, Monday...

Maria and Carlos are gone.

Sí. I know.

He can't just leave like that.

That's what happens
here. People leave.

This is a temporary shelter.

Residents are here until
they get back on their feet

or decide to just move on.
He can't just go

without telling us his-his
plans and-and where he's going.

He's her father.
We got no right

to tell a parent what
to do, where to go.

That's the trick.

It's not easy.

You serve.

You have no control
over what happens.

But you keep serving.

You keep serving.

So, who else has
something they want to share?

We have really good news.

Daddy found a job, and we're
moving into our own apartment.

That's great, sweetie.
What's wrong?

Except we won't be going
to school here anymore.

Oh, honey.

You know what?
You are going to have

so much fun at
your new school.

I promise. You, too.

You are.

And we're so happy for you,
aren't we, guys?


You know, I have something

I have to share
with you guys, too.

At the end of this month,

I'm going to have to leave
to have this baby.

But I love you all so much,

and I'm going to come visit
as much as I can.


Who's gonna teach us?

Well, our good friend Dr. Warren

is already looking
for the perfect replacement.


You know what?

Why don't we
go to recess?

Young man,
put that cigarette out.

You know how proud
I am of you?

People trust you.

You know why?

'Cause you're trustworthy.

You're a natural born leader.

Which is why from now
until your 18th birthday,

I'm going to hunt you down
wherever you are

and give you a book list
which I expect you

to read and report on
without fail.



How many books?

Ten a year.

No way.

Yes way.

I will hunt you down,

and I will find you.


Huh? What?

We got to call your mother.
It's time.

It's time!

Time. Time. Time.

Okay, okay.

Here we go.

It's time.
It's time.

This one's coming fast.

Hi, McKenzie.

I'm your brother, Brandon.

Hi, McKenzie.


She looks like a tadpole.

That's the way newborn babies
look, buddy.

You have a big family.

We have a crowd of your
people in the waiting area.

About ten of them
claim to be your kids.

Here they come.

Hi, Miss Stacey.
What's her name?

This is baby McKenzie.


Miss Stacey, did it hurt?

Don't talk so loud.

Can I touch her?

McKenzie's so little.

Oh, this is from us.

You do this.

Oh, guys.

It was Danny's
when he was little.

He wants the baby
to have it.

It's McKenzie's now.

Thank you so much. Look.

Hi. That's a nice smile.


To Dana's new teacher:

Dana is a delight.

She is intelligent,

and has a special aptitude

for science.

Dana is kind,
protective of others,

and has enormous
strength of character.

I know you will enjoy
having her in your class.

Sincerely, Stacey Bess,
Shelter School.

It's a pleasure
to meet you, Dana.

Glad to have you in our class.

Thank you.

Can I have my letter back?

That's from my teacher.


Hello? Miss Stacey?


Maria, where are you?

I'm here at mi abuela's.

My grandmother's house
in El Paso.

And guess what?

I just started junior high,

and it's not
like I'm the new kid,

'cause everybody's new
in seventh grade.

I just wanted you to know

that I'm not going to
forget you.

I'm not going to forget you.

You let me know
how you're doing, okay?

How school is?
And you stay in school.

You promise me you're going
to stay in school.

Of course I'm staying in school.

I'm going to be a teacher,
just like you.

Miss Stacey?

Yeah, I'm here.

Say "hi" to Nicole
and Brandon for me.

I will.


we won't ever say good-bye.


Knock, knock.



There she is.

Dr. Warren.

Oh, my goodness.

You wanted to meet her?

I do!
Here we go.

Oh, my.

Look at you!

You want to see Dr. Warren?

Here, why don't we
do it this way?

Oh, I get to hold her?
Oh, my goodness.

Oh, goodness.
Oh, yes.

Oh, yeah.
Hi, there.

I'm telling you, she's the
easiest baby I've ever had.

She just eats
and sleeps on schedule.

We pretty much
just wait at home

for Nicole and Brandon
to get home from school.

Yeah, that's what we do.

Oh, she is so beautiful.

Isn't she?

Put you down here.

There we go.

Oh, she is gorgeous.

How's our school?


Construction starts
in the spring.

But the best part is
the new legislation.

Next year it's going to be
easier for homeless students

to register at any
school in the district.

That's amazing.


And in the meantime,

we want to add to
our teaching staff.

So think about it.

Hey, hey.



I miss them.

I know.

And I don't want to put
McKenzie in day care.

I mean, we can't
afford it, anyways.

I'm not done yet.

I know.

Attention, everyone.


This morning, we will have
someone coming to class.

This person will be
team teaching

with Mr. Parker and me.

I think you'll find
with three teachers,

you'll be very busy students.

Mrs. Bess.


Ms. Bess!


Ms. Bess!
Ms. Bess!

Ms. Stacey!

Hi! It's so good to see you!

Danny, really?
With the hat?

Give me a break.

She's so much bigger.
I know.


so, who wants
to share next?

How about our new friend, Annie?

You want to share
something with us?

How'd you get here, Annie?

We lost our house.

My mom says
we've got each other

and that we're gonna be okay.

You will be.

Does anyone want to share
their story with Annie?



What are you doing?

You want to share something?

Does anyone want
to share something?

♪ ♪

♪ This little light of mine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine ♪

♪ This little light of mine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine ♪

♪ This little light of mine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine ♪

♪ Let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine ♪

♪ This little light of mine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine... ♪

♪ This little light of mine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine ♪

♪ This little light of mine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine ♪

♪ Let it shine, let it shine,
let it shine. ♪


== sync, corrected by elderman ==

Hi. I'm Emily VanCamp.

The work of the real Stacey Bess
is what truly inspired me

to become part of tonight's

Hallmark Hall of Fame

Along with other caring
and committed educators,

Stacey continues
to be an advocate

for underprivileged children

I am honored
to introduce her to you now.

Thanks, Emily.

My hope is that tonight's movie

will inspire others
to get involved.

My family learned
that even simple things

can be very meaningful
to a child in need.

Cooking, just sitting
around a dinner table,

laughing and playing together.

Ordinary moments that
our own kids take for granted

can have
an extraordinary impact.

A child we took in
years later said to me,

"You came in every night,

tucked us in and said prayers."

To her, that was amazing.

You, too, can make a difference
in the lives of such children.

You don't need unusual skills.

You don't need special training.

You just have to care.

you'll find links

to organizations
where you can learn

about volunteering
to make a difference.

And you can learn

about some of the new challenges
facing homeless families today.

You can also find out what
the real Stacey Bess is doing

in her continued effort
to help children.