Eye on Education

Facing Forward: A Student’s Story

Tyree Stewart


Tyree Stewart

“My mother wants me here, even though I don’t want to to be here.”

Those are the words straight from the mouth of Tyree Steward, a seventh grader from Cleveland’s E-Prep Charter School. He’s a charismatic young man, but the day-to-day struggles he faces  are beginning to take a toll.

Several years ago, cameras followed Steward for a deeper look at the inner-city school experience.

The result is Facing Forward: A Student’s Story, a documentary examining some of the complex challenges commonly faced in urban education.

One of the turning points of the film is when Tyree gets expelled for bringing a knife to school. He says he was trying to defend himself, and instead, received a severe penalty while also feeling alienated by his teachers.

Eventually (spoiler alert!), Tyree rebounds from his challenges and gets his life on track.

Soon, audiences nationwide will be able to get a deeper look at one of Cleveland’s charter schools when the documentary makes its debut on PBS stations across the country.

“Tyree’s journey is as dramatic and moving as any work of fiction, but more heart wrenching because it’s real,” said the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Andrea Simakis in a 2011 review of the film.

The discussion continues tomorrow morning, as Tyree will be appearing as a guest on WCPN’s daily call-in show The Sound of Ideas. He’ll share more of his story, as host Mike McIntyre explores what kind of safety nets are in place for students who may be struggling to make it through Ohio’s school systems.

Facing Forward premieres on WVIZ/PBS Tuesday at 9:00 p.m., and you can listen to The Sound of Ideas on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. on WCPN 90.3. StateImpact Ohio is a collaboration among WCPN, WKSU, and WOSU. 


  • ljk

    Just saw Tyree’s update. I was so impressed by the film- so real, deep and to the point. Came to understand the reasons for the strict discipline. Although, I didnt think it fair he was expelled.. suspended maybe. The danger was real. What’s a kid to do faced with getting shot or killed on the way to school? Should have been brought back once taken out of the home. I would like to hear an explanation on that. Looks like he is doing well now, and I am very glad for him.

  • Linda Slack

    …most teachers would have given up on Tyree! His challenges, as he overcame them allowed him to move away from dysfunctional behavior – my grand daughter and I watched and she is a new student of ICan at the new Akron Prep ICan. This was inspirational and we will take an opportunity to meet Tyree next year if he comes to visit the Akron ICan school!

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