Saturday, April 9, 2011

Will Bangs on how Project Coach led him to teach

Will Bangs, who now teaches Middle School History and English, was first introduced to Project Coach as a student at Hampshire College when he took one of Sam Intrator's seminar classes. If it weren't for the program, "Sam, Don and Andy", the Project Coach directors, and some of the coaches like Duane, Loeb, Ziggy that he met once he became involved in Project Coach, he would not be teaching today. After graduation from Hampshire, Will went on to obtain his Masters of Teaching degree at Smith College, under the Project Coach fellowship.

During Project Coach sessions, Will helped the Blue Shirts with media production, teaching them storytelling using radio and video through different activities and lessons on Thursday afternoons. The Blue Shirts went through the steps of devising video projects, arranging footage, and interviewing their parents, teachers, and community members. The culmination was a video documented through the coaches' voices, which was sent to a foundation, and who, as a result of watching the video, gave Project Coach a five thousand dollar grant, money that would, in part, go towards the coaches salaries. It was at the point that Will was able to see the tangible result of his involvement in Project Coach.

For his senior thesis, a convergence of education, community organization and video production, Blue Shirts from Project Coach, Sam, Don, Andy and other teenagers he had worked with were brought to his college. Some of the Project Coach Blue Shirts spoke about what being involved in Will's media production projects had meant to them. One coach had been on the brink of dropping out of high school, but in part because of his involvement in Project Coach, he kept holding on, in an attempt to do well in school so that he would be able to obtain a scholarship to persue media production. Project Coach has an "impact on the teens in Springfield but it's also powerful for the college students involved in it". Will is grateful for being in "just the right spot".

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