The Principal Story
"The Principal Story" captures a year in the life of two dynamic public school principals in Illinois. Veteran principal Kerry Purcell has led Harvard Park Elementary in the state capital of Springfield for six years; Tresa D. Dunbar, Ph.D., is in her second year as principal at Chicago's Henry H. Nash Elementary on the city's tough west side. They differ in temperament, age, race and experience. Yet they share a striking demographic challenge: Their students are overwhelmingly from low-income families. At Harvard Park, the number is 87%. At Nash, virtually every student - a shocking 98% of the student body - comes from a low-income family. With this fact come a host of familiar problems - lack of funding, teacher turnover, low attendance rates, low test scores and the corresponding lures of drugs, gangs and violence. Purcell and Dunbar share a couple of other things, too. One is an irrepressible determination to see that poverty d sn't prevent their students from getting a good education. The other is an uncanny knack for delivering on that determination.