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About Charles Abelmann & Associates

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About Charles Abelmann

I began documentary filmmaking after a long career in education working as a researcher, policy maker and school leader. I was a middle school teacher at Carolina Friends School after graduating from Duke University and then worked with a rural development project in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia as a Luce Scholar through the Henry Luce Foundation. I then worked with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians as an education planner and also worked with the Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi before getting my MA and Ed.D from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). 


At HGSE, I worked with my advisor Richard Elmore at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) on a national study on accountability across all kinds of schools.  Together we published When Accountability Knocks, Will Anyone Answer?  (Use link) and other papers based on the research. My own doctoral research was based on looking at the impact of a state policy in Mississippi designed to encourage manufacturing firms to invest in worker training.


These cross-cultural and research experiences influenced my professional life. My work as a qualitative researcher shapes how I approach subjects in my films and how I analyze interview transcripts that go on to influence materials for scenes.  They inform my work as a director, executive coach and consultant at Abelmann And Associates.


I have an understanding of international development from my work as Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank. Through my work at the World Bank, I supported education research, capacity building, and education investments in Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, China, Mongolia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Solomon Islands, and Latvia.  I feel very fortunate to have visited hundreds of schools around the world as I have worked on projects to improve access and the quality of teaching and learning. I also managed the Bank’s Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness unit which delivered training on a range of leadership programs, including executive coaching. The unit also managed onboarding for Bank staff and supporting language and culture training. I view film as a powerful learning tool to help students explore the world and foster deeper understanding and compassion for a range of human stories. I value my coaching work as it also promotes awareness and insights allowing clients to achieve their goals. 


I have also led public and private schools as a Principal, Director, and Head of School. I have been involved in helping the school develop both diversity plans and strategic plans. I have been very involved in innovative designs to support progressive education. While at the Barrie School, we completed new learning spaces and designed and patented furniture to support flexible learning spaces. I was previously the head of the Laboratory Schools at the University of Chicago. I celebrated the history of the school and promoted exploring the meaning of its founder today in the life of the school. I directed and produced a film about John Dewey's travels to China from 1919-1921. The film was based on traveling with 12 students from three different schools and premiered at an International Colloquium commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dewey's travels to China.  Students learned about each other and about John Dewey as they traveled in China. As an ethnographer, I am attracted to helping audiences understand complex education topics involving the global education market and cross-cultural issues. I am committed to work that promotes greater education equity and improved quality of teaching and learning. I hope my work allows audiences to hear voices that are new to them and that present new perspectives in support of understanding and advocating for education for all–an ethic consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

About Abelmann and Associates

Abelmann And Associates provides consulting and coaching services primarily related to leaders, schools, ed tech firms and school systems.  I support individuals and organizations to meet their strategic goals.  As an ICF and BCC certified executive coach, I ask my clients questions to support discovery, insights and results.  I enjoy supporting leaders in education startups and those starting new roles or contemplating career changes.  I also am available to support youth and families navigate school and college choices.  My work as a documentary film director and producer focuses on sharing compelling stories promoting awareness, insight and learning.  I enjoy partnering with talented coaches and consultants as demanded by the needs of the engagement.

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