"We're sinking all this money into the war and into pork barrel projects, it's unbelievable to me that we don't invest in our education system," local filmmaker Tod Lending told me in a 2008 interview, during production on his documentary The Principal Story. "That's where the culture grows out of."
The principals Lending and co-director David Mrazek follow in the film face problems originating far beyond their school walls, in the poverty, malnutrition, crime and family dysfunction of their surrounding communities. But their passion and commitment have allowed them to make progress in turning around struggling schools on the west side and in Springfield.
The Principal Story screens for free Tuesday 11/3 at No Exit Café.
Lending's films examine how public systems serve, and fail to serve, individual human needs. He tackled public housing in the Oscar-nominated The Legacy, prisons in Omar and Pete, immigration in Rosevelt's America and juvenile justice in Aimee's Crossing.
The Principal Story premiered on PBS's POV in September. It plays Tuesday 11/3 at 7 PM at No Exit, 6970 N. Glenwood.
A discussion follows the screening with Lending, Mrazek, state Sen. Heather Steans, Reavis Elementary principal Michael Johnson, and Westinghouse College Prep assistant principal Dr. Gregory Jones.