Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Roll Call for Project Coach...!

So what does theater have to do with coaching? While the PC coaches may not need to perform Shakespearean soliloquies on the field, they do need to be aware of how they are using their bodies and voices, a point that Smith sophomore Kia Johnson tried to get across in last Wednesday’s workshop.

Before working on using their voices and bodies for coaching, the coaches had to think about what it takes to be a good coach: interacting with the kids to show them how it goes, being responsible, showing respect, focusing on the positive, practicing it themselves. But how can they do that with their body? “Don’t slouch.” “Don’t cross your arms.” “Eye contact.” “Present strong.”

This was great in theory, but could they put it into practice? The coaches began by splitting into pairs to tell each other, “I believe in you,” “I love you,” and “I hate you” – but they had to do so first with no passion in their voice and without using their hands, then with passion but still no hands, and finally going all out with passion in their voice and using their hands.

If the coaches had any discomfort with expressing these sentiments to one another, it was not evident. The room was soon full of passionate declarations of love and hatred. This task may seem pretty simple, considering that they were using phrases that come with emotion attached, so the next challenge was to do so with nursery rhymes. Each group was assigned a rhyme, and the group leader had each coach read the rhyme with a different emotion. Can “Humpty Dumpty” really be read angrily? What about nervously?

While they may not have made sense, they showed the coaches how much the emotion in their voice can change the perception of what they’re saying, and therefore, how careful they need to be to make sure that their words, voice, and body are all saying the same thing to the kids they are coaching.

By Rachel Hanlon

Project Coach in the Press!

College coaches city youngsters

The Republican
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NORTHAMPTON - Loeb G. Rosario knows exactly where he wants to be a dozen years from now.

"I want to be under the big lights, making the big decision to win the game," the Central High School sophomore from Springfield said.

The 16-year-old has a jump on that dream, thanks to Project Coach, a Smith College-sponsored program that gives Springfield teen-agers the tools to navigate the playing field as well as the field of life. Recently, Rosario was among a batch of teens learning leadership skills and training regimens under the tutelage of Smith professors Sam M. Intrator and Donald S. Siegel.

Siegel, who heads a master's program on coaching, came up with the idea for Project Coach while on sabbatical in 2003.

"The question was: Can sports be used to leverage education?" he said. "Sam and I did a lot of talking about that. There had to be mechanisms that taught certain things. The best way to do this is to teach kids to be coaches."

Now in its seventh year, Project Coach runs a sports league that plays at Chestnut Street Middle School and German Gerena Community School in Springfield. There are currently 25 high school students coaching 120 Springfield elementary school pupils in basketball and soccer. The program raises money to pay the coaches minimum wage salaries, and the teens, in turn, spend one day a week on special community health projects. One young coach recently gave a presentation on diabetes 2, which Intractor said is a huge health problem in north Springfield. The program also includes training on how to deal with bullying.

Rosario, who has been with Project Coach for three years, said he has seen the effects of the program in his school work as well as on the court.

"It teaches you how to be responsible and get things done on time," he said. "We have to get the kids to be there on time. They look at us like role models, basically."

Jaytoe E. Teh, 16, is a junior at Putnam Vocational Technical High School and an All-State soccer player. He said Project Coach has made him a better person as well as a better coach.

"It's helping teens and little kids at the same time," he said.

Some of the coaches-in-training recently took part in a research project by Smith senior Helene M. Parker, who was using weight-sensing equipment and a computer to study balance. Her findings could help the young coaches teach their players how to attain better stability.

Siegel said one of the program's goals is to get its teen-age coaches nationally licensed so that they can coach in any state.

Francesca M. Rodriguez, 17, a senior at Springfield Renaissance School, loves sports, but said Project Coach has been her avenue to a different career.

"I want to be a teacher," she said. "This helped me finally decide, because I love working with kids."

Rodriguez has applied to Hampshire College, where she hopes to study special education teaching at the elementary level.

Toy Soldiers Arrive at Project Coach!

The journey began with Andy Wood walking into Toys R Us (a place he swears he hasn’t been in a long time…) in search of toy soldiers. Why toy soldiers? Because that is what the coaches at Project Coach were using to learn about their plays and strategies. As I walked over to one group of coaches, I ask them why their little soldiers (who were actually toy firefighters and policemen) were set up in a circular formation, and not in a typical play formation. Coaches Richie Colon and Gabriela Rodriguez arranged this particular set up of small men and as I sent down, I asked them to explain it to me.

“There are in a huddle,” Richie explains. He continues, “Huddles are how coaches and players get to know each other, everyone gets to know everyone else’s names”. And in this particular exercise, the coaches lead the huddle by asking their players to describe their role model to the rest of the group. I ask them why discovering who the kids’ role models are is important, especially when it is being asked in a sports team huddle. Gabriela pauses, looks up at the ceiling, and tells me, “That’s a hard question!” After a few more minutes of consideration, she has an answer for me. “If a person they look up to is positive, it is good that the kids want to be more like them”. I ask her why it is important that the coaches know who the models are and she says, “As their coach, the athletes will automatically look up to us and so it is good to know who the kids look up to, and know what traits they admire, so we can make sure we do our best to people that are good role models for them and coaches they can connect to”.

Other tables of coaches had their miniature men set up in play formations, ready for action, as they discussed different plays and different scenarios.

Then everyone moved into the gym and the coaches took turns explaining their applied skill games and suddenly the toy firefighters and policemen became teens executing plays.

By Marie Wallace

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prayer for Brightwood By. Abraham Bienvenido Henderson

mama always said
take your time young man
mama always said
you gotta get young to get old
mama always said
money comes and goes
mama she don't know...

that there are streets
calling our children
more than telemarketers
on every corner and every block
that their are more opportunities
selling rock than investing in stock

but before el cuco does his share
of interviews
we are here
at 3pm
waiting for the bell to ring
for another round

Outside Brightwood Middle School
they rush out like a coming wave
pouring through double doors
pack packs pregnant with books
bouncing on their shoulders
to out marked meeting spot by the black iron fence


all ready to go
down these glass glittered side walks
sprinkled with broken bottles and dreams
concrete curbs like lips
waiting to eat them


like soldiers
they duce up
at attention
kids bubbling with enthusiasm
like a bottle of shaken soda
they march from the Brightwood middle school lot
past brick buildings,
sneakers dangling from telephone pole wires
soles clapping in the wind
before their march evolves into skips and jumps
laughter and flicking of ears
treading through leaves ankle deep
past hasty covered gang signs and beats booming out of tinted cars
they cross the street
to the other side


stop and see
a soccer field 50 yards away
so green
so open
like the sky
caged yet free
away from the world
"on your marks! Get set!"
and they are off
before I can say go
and I laugh
with a lump in my throat
hands folded in my sweat jacket
in a silent prayer
for Brightwood.

PC coaches attend Youth Media Summit @ MHC

Loeb Rosario and Dawayne Henry, accompanied by PC Media Director Will Bangs, and Program Director Andy Wood, yesterday attended the first Youth Media Summit for the Pioneer Valley, held at Mount Holyoke College.

Loeb and Dawayne, who represent the first cohort of coaches to be trained in media production by Will, joined other youth program participants and workers as they collectively shared ideas and concepts to help further the media components of their respective programs. Throughout the day, both coaches participated tremendously in group discussions and workshop activities, and networked with adults in a manner in which both the Media and Program Directors were extremely proud.

The highlight of the day - other than a great lunch and post-conference Friendly's stop that Loeb and Dawayne clearly enjoyed - saw both coaches present and discuss two of their video productions to the audience, before fielding a number of questions from delegates who were visibly impressed by what they saw.

All four PC attendees thoroughly enjoyed the day, and look forward to attending future summits over the course of the semester.

Project Coach on TV!

This past Wednesday, Project Coach was delighted to host Jackie Brousseau and her team from NBC news affiliate WWLP Springfield 22 News at the first annual Project Coach retreat held at Smith College.

The media's visit proved to be one of the highlights of a successful day's coaching and learning - interspersed with a good dose of fun! - as coaches experienced a wide range of activities while on campus. After Co-Founder Sam Intrator had already visited the News 22 studio earlier in the morning to film a live interview during the morning broadcast, the day began with Exercise and Sports Science professor - and fellow PC Co-Founder - Don Siegel, along with department colleagues, leading coaches through a series of sports science lab experiments that challenged our teens to think about the application of power and balance in sports, and how such data is collected and processed. Graduate assistant Will Bangs proved to be the show-stopper at this event, defying college and high school basketball players to claim the vertical leap crown with a whopping 29 inches!

Next, the coaches worked with their redshirts in the Smith gym to refine their coaching styles ahead of next week's first 'live' session with one hundred elementary school athletes, before heading down to the squash courts to participate in a racquetball clinic kindly hosted by Smith College Squash Coach, Tim Bacon. Coaches quickly took to the sport, and were appreciative of Coach Bacon's knowledge, instruction, and great sense of humor!

Before breaking for lunch, coaches had time for one more workshop, this time generously led by Kia Johnson and her team of theater students. PC youth worked alongside their college counterparts to hone their "coaching voice", develop positive body language, and practice quick and effective methods of communication.

After the success of the February retreat, plans are already underway for a follow-up session during the April vacation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guest Post from Stacie Vos: About Using the Project Model in New Haven

A Little Trick Sometimes Called Community Service

I first heard about Project Coach from a Smith Alumna who shared with me the opportunity to study at Smith through a PC Fellowship. At the time I was teaching in New Haven as a Teach for America Corps Member, and this program seemed like a wonderful opportunity for teenagers, especially teenagers who face social inequality. Not only does PC offer the opportunity to take responsibility and ownership by leading a team, but it offers the real sense of accomplishment that becomes possible through athletics. 

I am now working on mentoring programming at a non-profit organization called the Women and Family Life Center in Guilford, Connecticut. Before I joined the organization, the Program Director described a number of challenges around getting girls to show up for events. We realized that so many women, let alone very young women, resist coming forward to discuss potential and real problems in their lives. We began to think that girls might be more interested to join in programs if they were focused on helping others in the community, or if there were some activity around which the programming was based, or both.

Hence Girls Coach/Girls Run. Right now we are working with 10 high school girls from the "shoreline" area of Guilford, which means we are working in three towns. The high school girls are learning about communication, problem solving, motivation, self esteem, friendship, and media influence. We have drawn from the Project Coach curriculum to address topics like communicating with team members. In our next session, we will pull in middle school girls to work as assistant coaches. The high schoolers will lead the new participants through a similar curriculum, only this time there will be room for running, stretching, and discussing nutrition and health. This curriculum will be run a second time in the spring, when coaches and assistant coaches lead a group of 4th graders to run a 5K. 

I think that programs like GCGR and Project Coach hit upon a fundamental point, which is that sometimes young people help themselves best by helping others first. I can already hear our high school coaches express their ideas about how to best serve the 4th graders who will join us this April, but I also know that the work these girls are doing right now, even before meeting the younger ones, is just as crucial.

Read about GCGR in an article in the New Haven Register

Project Coach on NBC Television

Spotlight on Project Coach: featuring PC coaches Loeb Rosario [Central High] and Marcus Smith [Putnam High]

Interviews with Sam Intrator -
Project Coach's co-founder:

Interview with Jackie Brousseau

Interview with co-anchor Rich Tettemer

Article about Project Coach from Youth Today

The following is an article in Youth Today-- a leading publication in the field featuring our work: 

How To Promote Leadership Skills Through Sports

Sports seems to be a natural avenue to youth development, especially for leadership skills, because kids naturally gravitate toward physical activity and competition. But using sports to reach at-risk youths is a lot tougher than it appears.
“The mistake we make is [to believe] that sports builds character. In and of itself, it doesn’t,” says Don Hellison, professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-author of Youth Leadership in Sport and Physical Education. Hellison says sports is a good medium because kids like it, but there has to be more to it.
His co-author Tom Martinek, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, agrees. “You have to have a set of core values that drives what you do,” he says. “The program has to teach kids life skills, not just sports skills.”
Why Teens Make Good Leaders
Hellison says a key to teaching kids to be leaders through sports is to eliminate the emphasis on winning. Instead, he suggests showing youths how to work with other kids in the community or showing them how to plan a lesson and then teach it to others.
That’s what Project Coach in Springfield, Mass., does. “In most communities, teenagers are looked at as vulnerable and as threats,” says Sam Intrator, co-project director for Project Coach. “We see them as inspired assets.” This is especially true in the north end of Springfield, where impoverished communities lack the parent volunteers to run sports programs for children. That’s why Intrator and fellow Smith College (Northampton, Mass.) professor Don Siegel decided to turn the community’s teenagers into coaches to have them to fill the shoes normally filled by adult volunteers. Their program teaches at-risk teens to lead younger children through participation in basketball and soccer.
“Teenagers have traction with younger kids in the coaching world,” Intrator says. “And leading kids naturally builds self-esteem for them.”
Teenagers participating in Project Coach receive salaries, and Intrator says making it a paying job is part of the strategy. “Our coaches feel professional,” he says. “They’re getting paid, and they’re making a tremendous time commitment.”
What Works
“Teenagers want to be on that horse,” says Patricia Broersma, who runs the Transformational Adventures with the Horse program in Ashland, Ore. “But we start with the groundwork first.”
For Broersma, that means working with youngsters on identifying the obstacles that stand in their way and then symbolically conquering those obstacles through increasing skill in horsemanship.
Intrator says it’s also important when trying to teach kids leadership through sports to give them a very real opportunity to lead. “Whether you’re doing sports or theater, what really works is when you work together, not in a hierarchy,” he says.
Broersma says she finds that a big part of teaching leadership is showing youths they can control their own destinies. She works with teens from a residential treatment facility and tries to create an environment in working with horses that encourages kids to see their lives as an adventure they must work their way through. “They start seeing themselves as in charge of their own stories,” Broersma says.
Kids can also be inspired when they are provided with something to which they wouldn’t normally have access. The Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3) in Albuquerque, N.M., for example, gives Native American youth on several nearby reservations the chance to play and develop skills in golf. “Golf can be a hard game to sell, because it’s very expensive,” Notah Begay Jr., head coach for the foundation’s Junior Golf Program, says. But when kids see the opportunity to be like Notah Begay III, a PGA pro, they want to be a part of it. “It’s not common for a full-blooded American Indian to be a pro golfer,” says Begay of his son.
Both NB3’s Junior Golf Program and Project Coach make use of a process of ongoing personal evaluation, through which kids analyze how they have performed. Hellison says this is central to making sports a leadership tool. “Have the kids self-evaluate at the end of the day,” he says. “Did you make this a better program today?”
Get Connected
As with any youth program, community connections are important to success. Project Coach has developed close working relationships with schools in Springfield, as well as local community organizations, and relies on both for recruits and for space to conduct its programs. “We’re very embedded in the community,” Intrator says.
The NB3 foundation has a strong relationship with To’Hajiilee High School on the Laguna Pueblo, which the golf program serves. The school provides uniforms and transportation. At the same time, the golf program requires participants to maintain passing grades in school. Program leaders say it helps youths develop the skills they need to build better lives. “A lot of kids on the reservations fall off the map after they graduate,” says Begay. By partnering with the school system, Begay hopes to inspire more Native American students to reach for higher goals, just as his son has.
Martinek says sports can be a great way to level the playing field for at-risk kids. “They get to experience a leadership role in a program,” he says. “These kids don’t usually have a lot of opportunity for leadership in school.”
“If you ask a teenager to lead and give them structure to do so, they can do remarkable work,” says Intrator.
Deborah Huso is a freelance writer based in Blue Grass, Va.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creating the Perfect Coach

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. – Maya Angelou

Some of the qualities of a good coach include motivation, passion, poise, positive attitude and communication. The high school coaches of Project Coach are invited to biweekly training sessions to learn about effective coaching skills so that they may be more impactful as they teach elementary school players better to be better athletes, better students, and - most importantly - better people. Last week, the high school coaches were asked to visually represent the qualities of coaching by creating a poster size representation of their ideal coach.

The high school coaches were asked to explain how their pictorial representation depicts the values of coaching. As they discussed this project in groups, creative visual images started to appear for the invisible qualities a coach possesses. For example, a first aid kit represented caring and trustworthiness, a "thumbs up" demonstrated positive energy, and wrist watches were used for timeliness and patience. John, a newcomer to the Project Coach team, struggled to represent encouragement and participation; he finally decided to draw the coaches and players dribbling a basketball together, in the same scene, to show their camaraderie.

As each group presented their posters, a theme caught my eye: the importance of a coach’s voice. The pictures of a coach’s voice varied; some pictures had wide mouths, large speech bubbles or wide smiles. “Loud,” “enthusiastic,” “encouraging,” and “a voice of authority” were some of the words used in describing the coaches’ voices. The founders of Project Coach and the graduate students helping with Project Coach help promote the importance of a coaching voice. Through ice breaker activities, the graduate students ask the high school coaches to demonstrate their best coaching voices. While explaining some basketball game strategies, the graduate students used particular phrases and words of encouragement. The high school coaches became aware of how effective a coach’s voice can be when their players are on the court running to make a layup, or shooting a jump-shot. Hopefully, soon they will be able to develop their own coaching voice to motivate their team of children in the upcoming basketball season.

by Ellie Theurer

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meet the Project Coach team....Kym Kendall

Not only has she worked with Project Coach since it started, but she also played soccer against Mia Hamm! Who is this wonder woman? Kym Kendall, the Physical Education teacher at Gerena Elementary School in Springfield, MA. She comes from Miami, Florida and played with Mia on the U.S. Olympic Development Team. Kym was also the gym teacher who helped Ziggy and Loeb (the boys interviewed last week), become involved in Project Coach and who are now strong leaders of the program.

She believes Project Coach is a fantastic program because there is nothing else like it for the kids in the Springfield area to do after school. She reveals that the programs that are available are directed toward the younger kids and the teens really have no options.

Since Kym works as the Phys Ed teacher at the elementary school, Gerena, she is able to offer a unique perspective of how this program affects the younger participants of Project Coach:

“Many of these kids come from foster care where nothing is stable except school, and for those who are involved, Project Coach”. She continues to explain that these kids have a particularly difficult time trusting adult figures, since most of them haven’t really been able to in the past. However, Project Coach offers these kids role models who are closer to their age and who they can identify with. They also see adults who are there week after week, and who prove to them that they care about who they are and who they have the potential to be.

Kym also points out that many of the girls she knows in the school do not have many strong female role models in their lives. Many of the older women they know are pregnant and not athletic. Project Coach provides these young girls with strong female leaders who they can look at and say, “Look! She can outrun those boys on the field” or “My coach is a girl, so maybe I can be that one day”. It can only be beneficial for these young girls to have strong ladies as their role models, showing them that they, too, can find their strength and not be afraid to believe in themselves and their “girl power”.

Parental involvement is something Kym also notices as a great effect Project Coach has on the community. “It is so rare to see parents around the school, they barely ever come in to talk to the teachers. Of the 10 years I have worked at Gerena, I have only met a handful of parents. Yet, there is something about Project Coach that allows the parents to get out of their cars to meet their kids on the field and they are encourage to meet the teen coaches who are working with their children. It provides an opportunity for the parents to become involved and interact in their children’s school days and feel welcome to do so”.

Kym emphasizes how much the Springfield community has embraced this welcoming program and asks, “If it weren’t for Project Coach, what could these kids be doing? They would be on the streets, in gangs, playing video games”, anything to solve their boredom.

Project Coach provides a safe place, not only for the teen coaches, but for the young athletes and the parents; a place to feel at home, a place where they are always welcome.

By Marie Wallace

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Engaging Students

Anybody who works with teenagers knows the primary challenge: How do you keep engaged? How you channel the energy and attention towards productive activities?

NY Times had a really fascinating article about an experiment in Arizona. Essentially, the challenge was formidable. You have teens enduring long boring bus rides to and from school. Eventually the noise level cranks up and the social jousting begins. Everybody can imagine what this sounds and feels like.

The great Arizona experiment:

WI-FI on the bus.

Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates).
Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared. 
At Project Coach, we think about engagement and motivation all the time. How do we secure a teen's interest and provide them with activities that are both immersive, but also productive. The Arizona experiment transforms dead and unproductive time into something potentially useful.

Friday, February 12, 2010

PC Alum Alex Lloyd talks about life during and after Project Coach

Project Coach alum Alex Lloyd [2007-8] talks about his time at Project Coach during this video interview, and how the skills that he acquired during his time with the program have helped him during the start of his career as Assistant Coach of the Austin Toros in the NBA D-League. Alex also discusses the value of community work with youth within the sporting world, and his motivations for working in education.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 1 - Something old....something new...

“Responsibility” is defined by the Webster Dictionary as “the state of being responsible, accountable, or answerable, as for a trust, debt, or obligation”. For two teenagers named Ziggy (17) and Leob (16), “responsibility” means Project Coach.

Both Ziggy and Leob are veterans of Project Coach; Ziggy has been involved since this program’s beginning in 2004, six years ago and Leob joined three years ago. Veterans of Project Coach, these boys are helping Graduate students interview prospective students who may become the new coaches. My job? To discover why Ziggy and Leob fell in love with Project Coach and how it has come to be that they are not only leaders on the field, but are now leaders of the program helping choose new teenagers to follow in their legacy.

This is Ziggy’s story: At the age of 11, his gym teacher told him there was an opportunity for him to make some money. And “What kid doesn’t want to make money?” Ziggy asks with a smile. At the orientation with Sam Intrator and Don Siegel, Ziggy realized that this program, Project Coach, would help teach him to be a better role model. His thoughts went directly to his two younger siblings. He says, “I really wanted to be the best role model for them, and I thought Project Coach could teach me how to be the best role model”. He explains further that he was “looking for an outlet” because he was a “naturally hyper student who occasionally played the role of class clown”. The athletic fields utilized by Project Coach provided a perfect outlet for his energy.

When he first joined Project Coach, he was the youngest coach and all the older children became his role models. A memory Ziggy shares with me is when there we two kids fighting and the coach did not just ignore or dismiss the situation. Instead, the coach brought the two kids together and they talked about why fighting is not helpful and that Project Coach is not a place for fighting. Then, Ziggy remembers, that these two kids were playing on the same team within the next five minutes. At the time, Ziggy explains, this surprised him and he greatly admired the coach who he watched bring the two kids together after a fight. Now Ziggy is that experienced coach who is responsible for putting an end to fights and helping kids see the importance of working their problems out on and off the field. When asked to describe the program in one word, this veteran takes no more than 2 seconds to answer with confidence, “motivating”.

The second story is that of Loeb’s: He is 16 years old and has been a part of Project Coach for three years. Like Ziggy, Loeb’s gym teacher also told him about Project Coach as a chance to make money and to also learn leadership skills. Loeb explained that being a coach was also a dream of his, but he never thought anyone would give him the chance to be a coach at such a young age. Project Coach was giving him this chance!

Loeb was having trouble in school previous to joining the program. He then explains that Project Coach offers free tutoring to its coaches and the tutors are willing to come on other days in the week too. Because of Project Coach’s tutoring, Loeb saw a great increase in his grades, giving him a big confidence booster. When I asked Loeb how Project Coach has helped in grow in ways other than academia, he explains that he is now more responsible. I ask him to explain what “being responsible” means in the context of Project Coach. He answers, “My kids look up to me as a coach, always ask me for help and advice, so I know I must be doing something right”. And a smile spreads across his face.

Project Coach has given both veterans, Ziggy and Loeb, the opportunity to rise up and become the leaders of younger kids in their community, thus giving them the opportunity to learn responsibility and leadership. Immediate results of their responsibility and leadership are clearly seen with the young athletes they coach as they solve fights, and help each young athlete work out his or her problems. And now, future possible coaches for the program are looking up to both boys and they are both ready for this role, as their confidence in their leadership and their love for Project Coach emanates throughout the room.

By Marie Wallace

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Launching Season II & Inspiration

Today is the launch of our spring season. It's always thrilling to begin. Teaching and sports share the quality and promise of a fresh start. The anticipation of the launch. The sense that you can adapt, change, modify, and make what you are doing better.

In that spirit, I was struck by an article that came across my desk today about the Miami teacher of the year. In her acceptance speech, she quoted a poem, ``To teach is to inspire those who thought they could never be inspired,'' the poem read. As the language arts chair at Palmetto, O'Hara has students illustrate quotes from poets, make book marks based on their favorite books and fashion T-shirts featuring propaganda quotes from novels. She has been teaching for 11 years.

Her comments set me thinking about the role of inspiration in Project Coach. Inspiration is one of the elusive sensations. The dictionary describes it as "stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity or an agency such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts actions or invention."  It's about stirring the spirit or mobilizing the imagination. At PC we believe that sports can be that trigger. Sports is chock full of opportunities to feel that buzz. We also believe that the activity of coaching provides an emotional charge to teenagers. They are in charge. They are responsible. In this sense Project Coach seeks to be that "agency" that moves the intellect and emotions.

What kinds of settings inspire? Ms. O'Hara in Miami inspires by providing opportunity for students to find and express their voice. I wonder how Ms. O'Hara's students do on their exams and tests? Would she be as celebrated or is there something happening in her classroom that eludes the needle measuring standard academic performance? In other words, can you measure inspiration and does it count? In a climate where 'great teaching' and 'effective youth programs' are being evaluated by 'value-added' systems of accountability, which gauge the effectiveness of schools and teachers by measuring the gains that their students make on standardized tests over the course of a school year, what is lost?

We're launching a program and we'll be tracking grades and college readiness and other metrics. But I also know that our Project Staff shows up each day aspiring to be inspirational and to be that "agency" that, as the dictionary says, "moves the intellect and emotions."