Monday, April 5, 2010

Hitting the Books @ PC

Project Coach is not just an after school program—it is a support system. Sam, Don, Andy, and the Grad Students aren’t there only to teach the Springfield teens how to become sports coaches; they support the growth and development of the full teen. An example of the extra steps Project Coach takes for its students is its tutoring program. Project Coach takes Smithie volunteers and matches them up with teen coaches who agree to bring work they need help on. One such Smith tutor, is First Year Abbie Alexander, a 19 year old from Nashville, Tennessee. And this is her story:

She came to Smith because she wanted to know New England and loved the open curriculum and thought Smith provided its students with a great global awareness. She is currently unsure of her major, but is thinking of majoring in sociology, with an education minor.

Abbie heard about Project Coach after they came to talk at Smith’s Senate and the description of Project Coach’s goals reminded her of a program she was involved back home in Nashville. “I did a lot of work with youth empowerment in Nashville, and I really loved Project Coach’s model of youth engagement and commitment to helping youths succeed. It is really great to know there are programs out there that actually care about the development of teens and their success”.

Before her first time tutoring at PC, Abbie had no expectations. But when she arrived on Monday, her first tutoree, Alyssa, and her really hit it off. “She was big into University of Tennessee basketball, so we bonded over that, and also, Alissa really liked Pat Summit, and I actually met her, so we also spent some time talking about why Pat Summit is such a great role model. Then, later on during the Project Coach teaching session, Alissa, actually called me over to point out a picture of Pat Summit she had found in her book! I felt like I had actually connected with her, it was such a great feeling!”

I asked Abbie, after being a part of Project Coach’s tutoring program for a month now, what she thinks of the program. She said, “Not many teens get the chance to coach younger kids and I think people underestimate the effort that goes into coaching. To be a coach, one needs to understand how kids operate and how to reach out to them. So, for a high schooler to step into that role, that is really impressive”.

Finally, I asked Abbie how she thought the tutoring aspect of Project Coach added to the program as a whole. After thoughtfully thinking about this question, Abbie answered, “When giving youth the opportunity to take on such a highly responsible role, you have to acknowledge that they need adequate support to fulfill that role. By providing tutoring to the high schoolers, Project Coach ensures their kids are being taken care of in the big picture scheme of things. This helps not only the livelihood of the Project, but sets the students up for all around success. They need support to do their job, but also support as a developing youth. This is a goal Project Coach accomplishes”.

By Marie Wallace

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