"Kling: A Teacher Who Defied The System" Documentary Showcases Chicago Teacher who Changed Lives!
If we were to all look over our lives we could probably find one teacher that we really cared for. At least one that made a difference in who we grew up to be. At least one that we know, without a doubt, genuinely cared for their students and wanted to see them succeed.
For several Chicagoans, that teacher was Mr. Thomas Kling. Kling taught students on the west side of Chicago in the 1980s and what he taught them would change their lives forever.
Those students would go on to accomplish great feats and often look back on Mr. Kling as the one who showed them that there was something more than gangs and drugs. All would thank him but, one student in particular, Demetrius Matthews, would go a step further.
Matthews immortalized him in film.
Demetrius Matthew’s', who owns an IT consulting firm, started branching out directing videos which led him to create this documentary. Matthews' debut film upholds the legacy of the beloved Chicago teacher Thomas Kling and his dedication to making a difference in the community. Featuring interviews with Kling himself and the very students he changed the lives of, this film is an inspiring tribute to an incredible educator and to the hard work that the teachers of America do every day, something which has been made even more apparent during the pandemic.
Demetrius Matthews describes his film as a love story; a love story between a teacher and his students.
“Education is a battle. Being a teacher is a battle,” says Matthews. “Mr Kling risked everything to give me and so many other students a chance to attend high school and be successful in life. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and this film is incredibly important to me. It’s an honor to share Mr Kling’s story with the world.”
Here's the film's synopsis:
A great teacher can educate, empower and uplift. "Kling: A Teacher Who Defied The System" is a tribute to one such extraordinary educator. In the West Side of Chicago in the mid-80s, 33-year-old Thomas Kling vowed to transform the lives of dozens of students lost in the pressure cooker of drugs and racism. His profound and lasting impact now shines in a documentary created by the very lives he saved.
Check out the film's trailer:
I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Mr. Matthews about his debut film. Matthews said that honoring Mr. Kling was a lifelong dream. He had remained in contact with Kling over the years, along with about 35 other students, celebrating holidays and cookouts together.
The film, which had been on his mind for about eight years, filmed during the waning days of the pandemic, shows how Mr. Kling was able to take some students from having low self-esteem and a dim future to having high test scores and being college ready.
Matthews says that his ode to Mr. Kling isn't the last thing coming either. He's currently working on a series based on the time he spent in Mr. Kling's class. It looks like the world of IT might be behind Demetrius Matthews because, after watching this documentary, he has definitely found his calling.
If you'd like to watch "Kling: A Teacher Who Defied The System" it's currently available on Amazon Prime and Tubi. After watching it, take some time to reflect on how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you.
We applaud Demetrius Matthews on a job well done and giving Mr. Thomas Kling his flowers while he is alive!