Persevere: The Wilma Rudolph Story

The students of one second grade class at Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, CA share the journey of their hero, Wilma Rudolph, who persevered through a life-threatening childhood disease to be the first American woman to win three gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics. The students researched, wrote, acted, and helped edit the film as a culminating project for Women's History Month. This short biopic showcases this remarkable woman who overcame many hardships to do the impossible, and in the end paving the way for female and African-American athletes everywhere.

  • Lisa Rossi, Second Grade Teacher
  • Tony Saxe, Second Grade Parent
  • Second Grade Students at Jefferson Elementary School, Berkeley, CA
  • Lisa Rossi, Second Grade Teacher - Jefferson School
  • Second Grade Students from Jefferson Elementary School, Berkeley, CA
    Key Cast
  • Tony Saxe
    Monumental, This is Noise Pop, See How They Run
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 54 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 4, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Lisa Rossi, Second Grade Teacher, Tony Saxe, Second Grade Parent

Lisa Rossi is a second grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, California. Lisa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from CSU, Chico, and later her teaching credential and Master’s Degree in Education at San Francisco State University. She was awarded San Francisco State University’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Academic Excellence and the College of Education’s Distinguished Student Award for her master’s thesis.

Lisa’s second grade classroom is always fun and engaging. Her classroom is a community where students work together to help gain perspectives and think critically about concepts and the curriculum, all while laughing, singing and sharing with each other. In 2007, Lisa was awarded Outstanding Teacher of the Year by Prudential Realty’s Education Foundation of Northern California.

Lisa finds creative ways to celebrate the power and struggle of all women and wants to inspire action in the elementary school setting to help more girls realize their full potential. She runs a Girl Power lunch group to educate girls on self-esteem at Jefferson, and has been a Girls On The Run coach for three seasons. She educates strong, powerful and courageous girls, and the boys who admire and respect them.

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Director Statement

"Perseverance: The Wilma Rudolph Story" started out as a crazy idea that I never thought could happen. Asking 23 seven and eight-year-olds to persevere through the entire script writing process (Brainstorm, rough draft, edit, final draft, and publish) is challenging enough. But then to add on acting, voice-overs and helping with technological editing is a whole other story. The students of Room 201 (2014-2015) were so inspired by Wilma's story that they were the ones that talked me into "persevering" with this project. They were up to the challenge and succeeded through and through. I am amazed by their dedication and commitment to completing this project and am in awe of there courage and stamina. We hope we can show our work to the larger community. Thank you!