Party of Five

By Carrie Wasterlain

This project focuses on the unique family dynamic of two sisters teaching at E.K. Powe, and their children, who are all students at the school. Sisters Melanie and Nancy both grew up in Durham, and attended E.K. Powe when they were kids. Both moved elsewhere during their adult lives, but when it was time for their children (Owen, Nora and Henry) to start school, they and their families moved back to their hometown and took teaching positions at the school. As a result, both mothers have had the unique opportunity to watch their children grow up right before their eyes.

Throughout my three months of shooting, I visited the family at the school, followed them to the park, and even joined them for dinner at Melanie's house. This project was a blast for me; I had the chance to get to know two extremely dedicated mothers and teachers, and to watch three rambunctious children on their journeys through elementary school, constantly charming me with their infectious giggles. My hope was to capture the personality of each family member individually, and also to show the funny, sweet, and dramatic moments these lucky families shared together.

Special thanks to Melanie, Nancy, Owen, Nora and Henry, who allowed me to shadow their lives for an entire semester. And thanks to Nancy, specifically, who gave me permission to use her very own music as the audio for the project.