I just got back from four action-packed but wonderfully inspiring days of shooting on the East Coast. The first two days were in Philadelphia where I spent some time getting to know a couple of young adults with very different backgrounds, passions and interests.
One of them is from a very creative family and runs her own business as a textile artist, hand making incredible rugs and quilts and selling them online and the other one is finishing up a Ph.D. in Cryptography at the University of Pennsylvania. Despite these very diverse interests, the one thing they shared in common was that they were unschooled and both consider their pursuits in life to be largely self-directed. It was a pleasure to get to know them and hear their stories.
A short plane ride later, I found myself just outside Boston where I conducted many interviews with both current members and alumni at a center called North Star, Self-Directed Learning for Teens. North Star is a truly unique place that caters specifically to teens who, for a wide number of reasons are choosing to leave high school or not attend at all, instead choosing to take charge of their own lives and education with the support of the community and staff at the center.
As Ken Danford, Executive Director and co-founder of the center told me:
“North Star teens move forward in unique directions at a pace that is right for them. North Star is not a school. We don’t offer diplomas, credits, or grades. Rather, North Star offers an alternative to school where teens learn in the way that suits them best.”
It was really evident in what I witnessed and in the people I spoke with that this approach works in unexpected ways and it was inspiring to see these teens so passionately take up the reins of their own lives.
It was a whirlwind tour but I shot lots of great footage for the film and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you a little later on.
There’s more interesting opportunities brewing on the horizon, so stay tuned.
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