Facing Forward: A Student's Story

When looking at the state of today’s inner-city schools, we hear a lot about standardized tests and dropout rates. But to learn about the realities behind these statistics, you only need to get to know one student— 12-year-old Tyree.

The 60-minute documentary “Facing Forward: A Student’s Story” journeys inside E Prep, an academically rigorous charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, as seen through the eyes and experiences of this struggling seventh grader. By connecting with Tyree, as well as with his teachers and family, viewers learn about the complex and sometimes overwhelming challenges facing those involved in urban education. Tyree’s experiences are emblematic of the opposing forces at play in the academic life of students who are at-risk in inner-city schools throughout the US.

“Facing Forward: A Student’s Story,” directed by Laura Paglin, is a production of Creative Filmmakers Association in partnership with WVIZ/PBS ideastream. It premiered at the 2011 Cleveland International Film Festival, where it was voted an Audience Award runner-up. The Plain Dealer wrote, “Tyree’s journey is as dramatic and moving as any work of fiction, but more heart-wrenching because it’s real. The final minutes of the film are jaw-dropping; ‘Facing Forward’s’ lessons [are] vital to the human curriculum.” 

What’s Tyree Up to These Days?

When we meet Tyree Stewart in Facing Forward: A Student’s Story, he’s a middle school student. Now he’s 19. So, how’s he doing?

Spoiler alert :)

Tyree’s doing well! He’s taking classes at a Kent State regional campus and is working at a temp agency. According to Facing Forward director Laura Paglin, “He’d originally gone there for temp work, but the president of the company was so impressed, she hired him to work for her.” More Tyree updates in the videos below:

Tyree’s gives a tour of his apartment:


Tyree channels his inner (Julia) Child:


Facing Forward: A Student’s Story, directed by Laura Paglin, is a production of Creative Filmmakers Association in partnership with WVIZ/PBS ideastream in Northeast Ohio.

Facing Forward: A Student’s Story is made possible in part by grants from the Raskind Family Fund at the Cleveland Foundation and by the Sherwick Fund at the Cleveland Foundation.

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