Charles Abelmann

Introduction (2-3 lines)

I am an educator passionate about filmmaking. As a new director and producer, I try to amplify voices to inspire conversation, learning and action on education related themes.

I began filmmaking after a long career in education. I was a middle school teacher in a remarkable Quaker school after graduating from Duke University and then worked with a rural development project in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. I then worked with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians as an education planner and also worked with the Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi prior to getting my MA and Ed.D from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). These early cross-cultural experiences influenced my professional life.

My doctoral work focused on understanding how state policy helped or hindered low-skill low-wage workers acquiring basic skills in small manufacturing companies in Mississippi. I also co-led a national study on how teachers across different kinds of schools conceptualize accountability. My work as a qualitative researcher shapes how I approach subjects in my films and how I analyze interview transcripts that go on to influence materials for scenes.

I have an understanding of international development from my work as Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank. Through my work at the World Bank, I supported education research, capacity building, and education investments in Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, China, Mongolia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Solomon Islands, and Latvia. I feel very fortunate to have visited hundreds of schools around the world as I have worked on projects to improve access and the quality of teaching and learning. I view film as a powerful learning tool to help students explore the world and foster deeper understanding and compassion for a range of human stories.

I have also led public and private schools as a Principal, Director, and Head of School. I was previously the head of the Laboratory Schools at the University of Chicago where I directed and produced a film about John Dewey's travels to China from 1919-1921. The film was based on traveling with 12 students from three very different schools and was premiered at an International Conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dewey's travels to China. Students learned about each other and about John Dewey as they traveled in China. As an ethnographer, I am attracted to helping audiences understand complex education topics involving the global education market and cross-cultural issues. I am committed to work that promotes greater education equity and improved quality of teaching and learning. I hope my work allows audiences to hear voices that are new to them and that present new perspectives in support of understanding and advocating for education for all–an ethic consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

New Day Films by Charles Abelmann

Opens in new window