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Georgia Southern to host free screening of ‘Paper Tigers,’ Q&A on school discipline and students’ emotional learning

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Georgia Southern University College of Education (COE) will host a free screening of “Paper Tigers,” an award-winning documentary that follows a year in the life of six students in an alternative high school. The screening, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. in University Hall, room 156, on the Armstrong Campus.

Called “absolutely riveting, profoundly important” by the The New York Times, “Paper Tigers” focuses on the alternative discipline strategies at Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington. There, principal Jim Sporleder faces a school riddled with violence, drugs and truancy, and brings to his educators and students the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, violence and disease that affects the school’s families. Breaking tradition, he utilizes an approach to discipline that includes understanding and treatment rather than judgement and suspension. In just three years, the approach reduced the number of fights at the school by 75 percent while graduation rates increased five-fold.

“As we are beginning to recognize the importance of social-emotional learning, this film speaks to the necessity for schools to examine the way it approaches students’ issues related to toxic stress and mental health,” said COE professor Regina Rahimi, Ed.D. “This film focuses on a school in Washington State, and its successful approach to supporting kids’ success. It is an important reminder to teachers, parents, mental and health professionals, juvenile justice professionals and community leaders that we need to develop holistic approaches to supporting today’s youth.”

Following the screening, the College will host a Q&A session featuring experts in the education, mental health and juvenile justice fields to discuss their take on the film and the status of school discipline. Panel members will include: Savannah-Chatham Teacher of the Year Kiwonda Riley; Debi McNeal, principal of Richmond Hill High School; and K. Foard, program coordinator for the community intervention program Work Readiness Enrichment Program.

Rahimi says she hopes that students and professionals will come together for this screening to talk about how local and area schools can consider alternative approaches to student behavior.

“It’s important to start a discourse with stakeholders about the difference we can make in our local schools, and educate our future teachers who we are training for challenges they will face in their very own classrooms,” she said. “Sharing insight from various perspectives — the classroom, the juvenile justice system, mental health counseling — can help to create a comprehensive dialogue about what can and should be done.”

For more information on the screening of “Paper Tigers” and the Q&A, visit

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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