Artist Statement

“Education is a prerequisite for survival in America today”

Ismail Aburrashid, an alternative education instructor in Dorchester.

In today’s climate, higher education is critical. In Dorchester, Massachusetts, only 20 percent of 16-19 year-old high school dropouts were employed between 2004-2005, while 83 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree were employed. And yet, in Dorchester, over 40 percent of high school students drop out every year and less than 25 percent of adults there have a college degree.

In September, I began my Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship with College Bound Dorchester (CBD), a non-profit working to improve Dorchester educational levels as a means of enhancing quality of life within the neighborhood. CBD offers a variety of educational programs and services to help individuals ranging in age from three months to 70 years who have fallen off the track to higher education.

Within my first week working with College Bound, I was immediately and emphatically struck by the educators who dedicate their lives to their students. As I started to learn more about the organization and its programming, I began to understand that each group of students required a particular kind of individual to teach them successfully. Yet it also became apparent that these diverse staff members share a common call to duty. A great teacher is priceless and CBD educators make immense efforts for an extremely important cause.

For my documentary project, I chose one individual from each program in an effort to learn more about their lives and the motivations behind the work they do. Their stories reflect the passion and dedication that these educators display daily on the job and highlight the difficulties of living in an inner city environment. It is my hope that this project celebrates these people and gives a face to the teachers who are fighting tremendous odds day-after-day. I am honored that these individuals let me into their lives and I truly appreciate their openness with me.

— Victoria Leigh Fleischer