Brave New Educators Blog - Brave New Films
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Brave New Educators Blog

This blog will be a place for students, professors, interns or university staff to write about their experiences with our Brave New Educators program, Brave New Films' documentaries, or the social justice issues we address. As Brave New Films' documentaries are shown in the classroom, we hope to hear responses or personal stories from students and professors discussing the themes of our films. It is exciting to hear how documentary has inspired students to explore, become activists, or share information. If you would like to post to this webpage, please email [email protected] with the subject line "Blog".

A Journey Through Service Finds a Need for Education Reform


Photo of Dennis Nappi II

In 2008, during my first day as a teacher, I had a moment of internal panic in front of my 7th grade special-education class in Southwest Philadelphia. I found myself questioning my choice to teach and I remember thinking: “What am I supposed to do now???” I wondered how I had gone from a position as an Army counterintelligence special agent, to a police officer, to a 7th grade special-education teacher. As a new teacher, I was told to expect the worst: profanity, violence, and a high illiteracy rate. As the first week unfolded, those expectations became a reality. 

While trying to survive my first year as a teacher, I faced an onslaught of racial slurs, insults, and physical attacks. I struggled to understand why my students had so much anger and hatred, and was constantly puzzled at their relentless rejection of my efforts to help them learn. With reading levels averaging at the third grade level, I tried my best to prepare them for their 7th grade state test in the spring, knowing full well that the test would be far too challenging for them to pass. 

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From Music to Film


Filming musicians at Chapman University

Many years ago I picked up a camera. I didn't have any idea how to use it or have a purpose for which to use it. However, I found myself gravitating towards sharing the stories of others instead of creating my own. Documentary became a perfect fit for me.

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A Call to Action: Read More Books. Watch More Movies


Meg Brown camel riding in Wadi Rum, Jordan.

I’m a history nerd. I pretty much always have been. Ever since I picked up my first American Girl book at age six (Felicity Saves The Day--I still have the dog-eared copy in a box around here somewhere), I was hooked. For my 9th birthday party, I dragged my friends along with me to the visiting Titanic exhibit--I lured them in with talk of Leonardo DiCaprio, but I was far more interested in the 100-year old silverware, antique jewelry, and the slab of the ship’s hull resting in a giant tank of saltwater.

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Storytelling and Social Justice


Working on the WhyPoverty? film series in Cape Town, South Africa.

I have always been inspired by a great story. Whether it is film, theatre, or literature, I have found stories to be incredibly transformative. While I was in college I became increasingly aware of story's ability to create change and comment on social justice issues in our world. Through plays written by Harold Pinter, Athol Fugard, or Eve Ensler, I was able to really think about issues like discrimination, torture and women's rights. Of course, I did not realize immediately that it was specifically the relationship between social justice and storytelling that inspired me. It took me years of working on relationship dramas and period comedies ( which are absolutely valuable and plenty of fun!!) to realize that what I loved most about storytelling was the advocacy it provoked in me. 

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