‘Education, Interrupted’ brings light to a St. Louis mom’s pandemic story
The coronavirus pandemic radically disrupted learning, and the interruption didn’t just affect test scores: Time away from school can exacerbate inequalities of all kinds.
“It was traumatic in so many ways for so many people — if you lost someone you love, if you missed out on really important milestones in your life — and I understand this urge to try to just put it behind us, move past it, forget about it,” said Aisha Sultan, the executive producer and director of “Education, Interrupted.”
“I have that urge myself,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist added, “but I feel like the lingering effects of that — especially on the most vulnerable parts of our population, like children from low-income neighborhoods, children who already face a lot of challenges — we have a moral obligation not to just look away from what the impact of this two years of disruption was on them.”
With the documentary, Sultan encourages audiences to remember and reflect on this moment in time. The film follows 30-year-old Tyra Johnson from August 2020 to March 2022 as she singlehandedly cares for her newborn son, homeschools her 4-year-old daughter and oversees online learning for her 6-year-old son.
Johnson’s experience highlights the devastating disruption to schooling during that time.
“It's very different trying to teach your kids how to read, and run your household, and take care of everything else,” Sultan said. “It was a lot harder for Tyra than it was for me, and it felt extremely difficult for me.”
Sultan hopes people come away from the film with a realization that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are far from over. She encourages viewers to “think about what we can do to lift up and bring back up the people who were most affected whose life trajectories will be changed if they don't regain some of the ground that was lost.”
“Education, Interrupted” is featured in this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival, which runs Nov. 3-13.
What: “Education, Interrupted” at the St. Louis International Film Festival
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5
Where: Webster University’s Webster Hall (470 E Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119)
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.