NEWS RELEASE: Documentary About Highly Successful New York City “small” Public High School with Union Teachers to Premiere in New Orleans Saturday, March 12

Pace High School, one of the new “small” public high schools in New York City, last year had 4,700 applicants for 108 entering-student places. Colleges offered the graduating class more than $18 million in scholarships.

The college-focused school is a seven year-old collaboration between the City’s public schools and Pace University, and uses unionized teachers and staff. Now a new half-hour documentary about it by Ken Browne Productions will premiere as the concluding special event at the 2011 Professional Development Schools National Conference in New Orleans, Saturday, March 12. The screening is from 4:30 to 6:00 PM at the Sheraton Hotel, 500 Canal Street, Napoleon rooms B1/B2, 3rd FLOOR. Media welcome.

Click here to view a trailer:

The following release is from Ken Browne Productions, which made the new film “Small School Big City” about Pace High School, one of the most successful “small” public schools in New York City.


Media contacts: Ken Browne, Ken Browne Productions, 917 856 2244,

Chris Cory, Pace media relations, 212-979-8463,

Click here to view a trailer of the film:


In collaboration with




proudly presents


“Very inspirational; quite a story.” – Joel Klein, former Chancellor NYC Public Schools

NEW YORK, NY, March 10, 2011 — Amid the noise and confusion surrounding the state of America’s high schools comes a documentary film that shows how one SMALL school in one BIG city provides a convincing case for high school reform in the 21st century.

–          “Small School Big City” is the voice of a union teacher:

“What we had in the city wasn’t working – something had to be better and I was willing to participate no matter what.

–          It is the voice of an immigrant student:

“I feel important at this school – I’m only this emotional because this school is so great!”

–          It is the voice of the university provost who helped create the school:

“Public education is not broken, don’t abandon it!”

New Orleans Premiere

“Small School, Big City” premieres in New Orleans, at the 2011 Professional Development Schools National Conference, Saturday, March 12, 2011 from 4:30 to 6:00 PM at the Sheraton Hotel, 500 Canal Street, Napoleon rooms B1/B2, 3rd floor. Media are welcome.

A New York City premiere is being set up for later this spring.

Floundering and flourishing

Welcome to Pace High School, located in New York City’s Chinatown but drawing students from all over the city. Launched in 2003 as one of NYC’s New Century High Schools with intense collaboration from Pace University’s School of Education, Pace High was partly funded by a $57 million grant from the Gates Foundation as one of over 300 “experiments” in small high school design in New York.

Some schools floundered. Others flourished.

The 30-minute documentary, “Smalll School Big City,” narrated by Roscoe Oerman, longtime star of “Sesame Street,” presents the story of one of those schools – a story that began with a chance meeting between a Pace University professor of education and a New York City middle school assistant principal. Five years later, in 2008, those two founders of Pace High shared the stage at a tearful graduation of the inaugural class on the downtown Manhattan campus of Pace University. Nearly 90 percent of the unscreened “founding” students were celebrating more than 390 college acceptances and $4 million of scholarship offers.

Pace High School has continued to excel. Applications have increased from 500 in 2004, the year Pace High School opened, to more than 4,700 in 2010. Colleges offered the 2010 Pace graduating class more than $18 million in scholarships.

As former chancellor Joel Klein says in the film, “You’re talking about a couple thousand kids each year whose lives are on a different trajectory.”

A school that doesn’t skim

Andrea (“Penny”) Spencer, dean of the Pace School of Education, said “This inspirational film will touch your heart and challenge negative perceptions about the potential of big city schools. It captures some of the best practices in urban education today.”

Yvette Sy, the founding and current principal of the school, explained that “Having our students associated with a major university from their first day helps us set a high standard and provides a concrete goal. That’s an important reason our students have done so well.”

Added Arthur Maloney, the Pace professor of education who shepherded Pace University’s participation, “This is not a model school that skims off the most promising candidates. Once students decide to apply to Pace High because they want rigorous college preparation, they are accepted at random. The school has succeeded with a full range of student backgrounds and abilities.”

The film was written by Emmy award-winning TV writer and author Ouisie Shapiro; Godfrey Nelson provided original music. The cast features an amazing group of educators, students, and parents.

“Small School, Big City” is a film that will inspire educators, administrators, and parents by showing what gifted UFT teachers, dedicated students, and a passionate principal can accomplish together.

“Small School, Big City” will be available for professional events for educators, government officials, parents, and anyone committed to supporting high school reform. DVD’s will also be available as well as a social media site so that all interested parties may join the discussion on what makes a great small school – in New York City or elsewhere.

Director Ken Browne’s previous film, “Look! I’m in College!” (2008), presented the story of four African-American young men from the NYC Public School Special Education District 75 who were chosen to pilot one of the country’s first college-based inclusion program for students with autism, also at Pace University. “Look!” was featured at the Sprout Film Festival, the Harlem International Film Festival, and was awarded the 2010 Paul Robeson Award for Best Short Documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival, which led to a feature story on NBC NY Nightly News.

About Pace University

For 105 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Visit Pace on the web: | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube. Follow Pace students on Twitter:  NYC | PLV

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