Henry Van Zytveld

Henry is a 20-year-old film student from Chicago, Illinois. He is currently studying film and television production at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Upon graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in documentary film.


In March of 2020, myself and millions of others were forced to shelter at home as the world attempted to control the emerging Covid-19 virus. While my mother had been a teacher for my whole life, it was the first time I was able to observe her doing what she loves. Inspired, I picked up my camera and began to capture her new experience as a teacher separated from her students. By completing this film I hope to share what life was like for a teacher in the midst of a pandemic. It is through this story of struggle, adaptation, and love that I hope some may ultimately reconsider the importance of teachers in our lives.


Teacher in the Window

On March 16th, 2020, Chicago Public Schools halted in-person learning in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands of students, parents, and teachers suddenly faced a new reality: online learning. For 5th-grade teacher Karen Van Zytveld, this meant engaging with her students while seated behind a laptop in her living room. For three months, Karen was challenged to adapt her lessons in creative ways, all while worrying about the health and safety of her students throughout the city.


This film documents the experience of 5th-grade teacher Karen Van Zytveld as she adjusts to teaching remotely in the initial months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The film is deeply tied to Chicago as Karen is a teacher in Chicago Public Schools. The filmmaker behind the project, Karen's son Henry, has also grown up in Rogers Park and attended a CPS high school.

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Teacher across Chicago, just like Karen, are essential workers who went above and beyond to reach students however possible over the last two years. To learn more about Chicago educators and the incredible work they do, visit the Chicago Foundation for Education.

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Learn more about Henry Van Zytveld, and see more of his work, at https://www.hvzmedia.com/