Last summer I went to Las Vegas to do a movie pitch for my novel, The Junior High, based on the years I was a teacher in New York State 1960-1990. The movie producers liked my book pitch for a movie or TV script and gave it highest honors with the suggestion that I make a TV script based on the book, like the TV series, “Welcome Back Kotter.” So, this past few months I finally found a good TV script editor software and began to change my novel from topics into dialogue. It wasn’t easy, but after many revisions and edits upon edits, I finally finished with 15 one hour episodes or one season’s worth of TV stories.
Like the movie, “Up the Down Staircase,” and “Blackboard Jungle,” this novel is based on fact, you cannot make up the stories I experienced over 31 years of teaching as a Health Ed. teacher and Phys. Ed. teacher and six years as a Dean of Students. I got to see Education on both sides of the fence.
What makes this TV script unique is the common thread of a handful of young teachers in their 20’s, who had families and sometimes children becoming the leaders of a Junior High School that eventually ranked among the best in New York State after winning the Most Outstanding Junior High in New York state award in 1986.
What made this Junior High unique? The teachers commitment to more than just academics. They also coached sports at the school, ran clubs after school, mentored and tutored students, and provided leadership by commitment and sacrifice. Yet, at the same time much of what they and others did was very funny. The stories of what went on in their classrooms are the heart of the TV script.
As I stated before you cannot make this stuff up, it was all real at one time; the two teachers making love after hours in the custodian supply closet only to have the custodian accidentally discover them when he opened the door; the Civil rights walkouts; the Anti-War protests by students; the weekly fake bomb scares; the unique nature of some of the teachers and the administrators; the Principal’s slush fund from soda machine kickbacks; teacher strikes and their affect on teachers; Teacher Union power; Burnt out teachers; Politics in a school; After school activities, Ski Clubs, Gymnastic Clubs, sports…
So I have completed the 12 final draft with expanded scenes about family life for the central teacher figures and how they managed to survive poverty and the stresses of teaching on the Junior High Level in New York State. PKM