SLA Spotlight: William Schanz '13
William Schanz '13 used his time at Marist not only to receive a first-rate education but also to begin thinking about teaching strategies and educational policies. This fall, he will begin work at Blue Engine Brooklyn, a nonprofit organization that pairs recent college graduates with experienced teachers in order to improve education for children in low-income areas.
Q: What drew you to Marist and to a history major?
A: This is sort of ironic, since this is an academically focused profile, but what actually drew me initially to Marist was athletics! I was a decent runner in high school, but certainly not great. All the other schools that I had an interest in weren’t really that interested in my running. That is why I will always be grateful
for the opportunity Coach Pete Colaizzo (men’s cross-country and track & field
coach) gave me. He gave me a spot on the roster and actually seemed to show
a real interest in me, making me instantly feel a sense of comfort and
belonging. It also helped I had a former teammate of mine from high school already on the team, who gave rave reviews of the school and the team. And
even though I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to major in, I knew I would
probably end up studying history. So as I can remember receiving great reviews
of the History Department from my teammate Pat Duggan, I knew that this was
the school for me.
When it came to my deciding to major in history, what ultimately drew me in is
that I love the stories that come along with history. And as a news geek, it puts
into greater context everything that is happening in this world around us. I also
cannot say enough about how awesome the history faculty at Marist is. They
really were a big part in making my time in school a wonderful experience.
Q: What fueled your interest in working in education?
A: My interest in education has definitely evolved over time. Initially I was mostly content with the idea of being a teacher in a nice suburban high school, coaching a track team. As time has progressed, however, and I’ve done more and more reading and reflection (much of it happening during my time abroad in Barcelona), I’ve been driven by the realization that way too many students in our country do not have the same kind of opportunities I had as a student growing up. I also feel it is fair to say, that the traditional model we are using to teach most students today is not working for many of our students, and that some reform (though it should be careful reform!) needs to put in place that makes learning a more fulfilling and enriching experience.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that putting myself in an inner-city classroom will make things instantly better for the children I will be teaching, or that my program is the primary solution in getting lower income students to show greater academic achievement. However, it is exciting to think that you may be playing a part in helping to set up a new, more effective model of teaching, which hopefully can continue to produce better academic results for the students we are focused on.
Q: How did you learn about Blue Engine and end up working there?
I learned about Blue Engine through my lifelong friend who saw a flyer for it at her school, Villanova. From previous conversations, she knew that I had wanted to do something with education in a city setting, so she gave me a heads-up about it. I could not be more excited to start. I knew as soon as I left my interview with them that this was the place I would like to work for after I graduated.
This year I will be teaching English Language Arts to 10th graders in a team setting of five teachers. I will be teaching in a community that has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. But what makes this year exciting is that I will be working with students, in a public school setting, using a model that has so far shown great success in getting our students to show tremendous growth and be more accountable for their work. In about each classroom I’ll be in charge of teaching about 6 or 7 students. And what makes this program cool for me is that I’ll be working along with mostly all twentysomething-year-olds coming from most of the country’s top schools, with all of us trying to make some kind of positive impact in this world.
Q: Are you looking forward to living in New York City? What (if anything) do you think you will miss about the Hudson Valley?
A: I love New York City! I’ve been living at home in Albany all summer (and I love Albany), but I am ready for a new place, a new adventure. It also helps that I’ll be living with three other recent Marist alums, so that will make the move that much easier and enjoyable.
I am actually going to miss a lot of things about the Hudson Valley. As a long distance runner, I have been able to take in so much of the area surrounding the Marist campus. Poughkeepsie and its surrounding areas, I’ve learned firsthand, are really beautiful pretty much all year round (you learn these things on 15 mile long runs).
I also would like to add that I am really going to miss the Marist library. I was an employee there this year, but with work and time spent isolating myself up in a cubby upstairs, I probably spent more hours there this past year than my own home. I’m not quite sure what I am going to do without that wonderful place next year.