This week, Western Mass News and People's Bank are focusing on a volunteer who has made a difference in the lives of students.
It's one of the only programs focused on developmental skills, particularly writing through film.
Using your senses-- appropriate to the name of “See-Hear-Feel” film, to write your own analysis.
It's also designed specifically for third graders.
"It’s a great time developmentally for students. They are beginning to move from learning to read to reading to learn, developing writing skills, and it's a very flexible and adaptable time for students, so the program was designed specifically for that age group."
And for five years, Deborah Christakos has felt privileged to work with these students.
“I started volunteering-- my son was in 3rd grade at the time. Was involved in the pilot program of this See-Hear-Feel film and I just found the program fascinating, so the next year when I was at a film and saw they needed volunteers, I said I'd love to be a part of this program,” said Deborah.
By studying the plot, character development, and inner dialogues of each short film, the students then work closely with volunteers like Deborah to create their own story line and scripts.
It's an experience that Deborah said isn't only beneficial to the children, but extremely satisfying for her.
“Incredibly rewarding, and each day when we have film, we have debriefing and we talk about what we learn, and very often we come out beaming on the stories, and the kids don’t ever want to leave. You know you made a difference and not just that day, but going forward for these students.”
Carol Johnson, executive director of Amherst Cinemas said they are blessed with many volunteers, but Deborah’s heart is one of a kind.
"Deborah has great passion for this program. She's very articulate-- she's approachable. She's the kind of person you love to work with."
“It speaks to the effectiveness of the program. Her familiarity-- her ability to make it happen as it should."
And particularly Deborah, who can recall specific students overcoming their worst fears.
Occasionally you get a student who doesn't want to participate and we work hard to make them contribute and feel comfortable.”
And a win for the students is a win for Deborah and all the volunteers at Amherst Cinema.
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