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Paper Tigers


“Stressed brains can’t learn.” That was the nugget of neuroscience that Jim Sporleder, principal of a high school riddled with violence, drugs and truancy, took away from an educational conference in 2010. Three years later, the number of fights at Lincoln Alternative High School had gone down by 75% and the graduation rate had increased five-fold. Following six students over the course of a school year, we see staff try a new approach to discipline: understanding and treatment rather than judgment and suspension. Using a combination of vérité and revealing diary cam footage, Paper Tigers shows that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.


  • Video Librarian
    "...uplifting, and it is inspiring to watch dedicated teachers who refuse to give up on the kids"
    Frank Swietek
  • The Guardian
    "Eye-opening for the layman, vital for anyone pedagogic."
    Phil Hoad

Festival Participation

  • Mill Valley Film Festival - 2015
  • Seattle International Film Festival - 2015

Additional Materials

Distribution Company

ROCO Films Logo
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