Conrack 1974

Caucasian teacher Pat Conroy was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina. In March 1969, under the Beaufort School District, he starts a job teaching at a small poor school located on Daufuskie Island, an island in a South Carolina river delta that is accessible only by boat. The island is inhabited exclusively by Black people. Conroy quickly learns that his students, who have never left the island, lack not only a basic understanding of academic items such as the alphabet and simple arithmetic, but also of other basic necessities of life such as personal hygiene. They can't even pronounce his name; they call him Conrack. The teachers before him, including the school principal, Mrs. Scott, have always treated the students like they are just slow; indeed, like they are completely unteachable. Conrack, a free-thinking man, decides to expose his students not only to the academic subjects but also to the gamut of life skills from brushing one's teeth to human anatomy, and some of the fun things in life like classical music, art, baseball, movies, swimming (despite living on an island, the islanders fear of the river because they don't know how to swim), and Halloween. He does so with compassion and without being patronizing. His teaching methods come under question by both Mrs. Scott and the Beaufort School District administration led by its superintendent, Mr. Skeffington. These differences in viewpoint could place Conrack's tenure at the school in jeopardy. Written by John Trumbull

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