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Whatever It Takes In The South Bronx

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Whatever It Takes is an award-winning documentary about the first year of operation of the Bronx Centre for Science & Mathematics.

Bronx Centre is a special high school located in "the nation's poorest district" - the South Bronx. It is one of many small schools in the area, organized as part of a New York City initiative to do something about the state of the public schools.

At the centre of the story is the rookie principal, Edward Tom. Tom is a business grad who was thriving in the fashion business when he realized his work was not very fulfilling. The father of three told his wife that the only part of the work week he looked forward to was teaching Sunday School, and the idea of teaching school full time grew from that. Tom is a zealot when it comes to children and education; he is exactly the sort of school leader every parent wants for his or her children. His ambition is to get these dead-ended kids to university.

Whatever It Takes unfolds over the school year. Events are told through four main perspectives: One is Mr. Tom's; one is that of a promising student, Sherifea Baskerville; another voice belongs to Madeline Rios, a social worker who grew up in the neighbourhood; and the fourth is science teacher Erica Balogh.

Ms. Balogh is a new teacher, hugely enthusiastic and ready to do anything for her students. The film shows how quickly the work atmosphere and various challenges from the kids can burn out the most dedicated educator.

The most arresting person in the movie is Sherifea, a very bright girl whose mom is a recovering addict. Sherifea and her brother spent part of their childhood in a foster home while Mom sought treatment. Halfway through the school year, despite acceptance at a special summer program at Dartmouth, Sherifea starts failing all her subjects. It is unimaginable that a child this smart and energetic could somehow get left behind, but the movie shows just how easily that can happen.

Luckily, Sherifea has the redoubtable Mr. Tom on her side.

Whatever It Takes is an inspiring film, to be sure, but it is difficult for the cynical to feel particularly hopeful or impressed. How many Mr. Toms are there to go around?

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Peter Treadway, PhD

is an independent consultant and money manager and Adjunct Professor in Asia. He is currently is principal of Historical Analytics, LLC. Historical Analytics is a consulting/investment management firm dedicated to global portfolio management. Its investment approach is based on Dr. Treadway’s combined top-down and bottom-up Wall Street experience as economist, strategist and securities analyst. A monthly letter entitled The Dismal Optimist is produced for clients. Dr. Treadway also serves in a part time capacity as Chief Economist, C T RISKS, a new Hong Kong company that will assist Asian financial institutions with their risk management problems. On the educational front, Dr. Treadway has developed a special Masters level course focusing on securities analysis and discounted cash flow and incorporating elements of standard equilibrium pricing models, behavioral finance and historical trends. This course has been given as Adjunct Professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) and the City University of Hong Kong. From 1965-2000 Dr. Treadway had a distinguished career on Wall Street and with major American financial institutions. For example, from 1978-1981 he served as Chief Economist at Fannie Mae. From 1985-1998 he served as institutional equity analyst and Managing Director at Smith Barney following savings and loans and government sponsored entities(GSEs). He was ranked as “all star” analyst eleven times by Institutional Investor Magazine. Dr. Treadway holds a PhD in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MBA from New York University and a BA in English from Fordham University in Bronx, New York.