Alfre Woodard To Star in Hallmark Movie
The story recounts Conroy's experiences as a young, idealistic and unconventional teacher who strives to bring literacy, knowledge and self-respect to the predominantly poor black children living on a small isolated island off the coast of South Carolina.
Desperate to secure a job as his wedding day approaches, Pat Conroy (Hephner) convinces Dr. Henry Piedmont (Langella), the arrogant superintendent of schools, to offer him a teaching position on the remote Yamacraw Island. Despite the fact that he would be required to live there on weekdays during the school year, he accepts the position after obtaining the reluctant blessing of his bride-to-be, Barbara, (Julianne Nicholson), a teacher and widowed mother of a 6-year-old girl.
Upon meeting the 12 students in his combined classroom for grades five through eight, Pat is shocked to find that most of them are illiterate, can barely add and can't even name their own country or its president. Mrs. Brown (Woodard), the school's black principal and its only other teacher, instructs him to be stern and tough with his pupils to keep them under control. Instead, Pat focuses on teaching them via imaginative and alternative means. He also attempts to connect with some of the less-than-welcoming influential locals, including Edna Graves (LaTanya Richardson), the blunt, world-weary grandmother of three of Pat's students.
Though the children embrace his kind, spirited and, at times, silly manner, and begin to thrive under his tutelage, Pat continues to face resistance from Mrs. Brown and Dr. Piedmont. To further expand the students' horizons, the undaunted Pat coordinates a class outing to the mainland for his wedding and a subsequent educational field trip to Washington, D.C. However, instead of receiving praise, Pat learns that his job may be in jeopardy, and he has no intention of abandoning the students without a fight.
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