Paul Murray, a leader and Video Production instructor on our summer Pre-College enrichment program at Amherst College program last summer, will be returning for 2012! Check out our interview with Paul, including some great advice for high school students preparing for a Pre-College enrichment program. Click here to read Paul’s bio.
You’re one of quite a few 2011 Pre-College Excel at Amherst College staff members returning for the 2012 summer. What was it about the experience that made you want to return?
It truly was an experience that is hard to put into words. The combination of the Putney educational model based on “experiential” learning, the staff camaraderie and the students enthusiasm for all that the Pre-College program has to offer, blends to create a unique and fun community.
How would you describe the Putney Pre-College Excel at Amherst College community?
It’s a community that thrives and insists on the concept of mutual respect. From the “Putney Barn” (home office) to the students (whatever their background), respect for other’s strengths, skills, and weaknesses provides a rich environment for learning and growth on many levels.
Can you talk a little bit about the relationships your forged with students and other staff on this summer Pre-College program at Amherst College?
With both students and fellow instructors, I feel I have made some new lifelong friends. As the teacher of the Video Production class, my students had the daunting task of documenting the Excel Pre-College experience. Through some amazing collaboration, and countless hours of work (many outside of class), in 3 weeks they put together an impressive production that entertained all who saw it and of which they should be very proud.
What sort of approach do you take when teaching your Pre-College Enrichment seminars at Amherst?
I try not to give seminars at all! My approach is to guide the students into learning by doing. As an example: On day 1, I gave them a challenge, a camera, and a computer and let them create for themselves. It was great to see the results even from those with little to no experience. Throughout the 3 weeks we focused on the practical aspects of production from budgeting, scheduling, interviewing, filming, editing, and right through to post production. We took a very practical and hands-on approach to the learning process.
What role do you feel you play in the experience of the high school students on this Pre-College enrichment program?
My role is to cultivate the skills in the students that they may or may not know they already have, particularly on a social level. Learning to collaborate and help one another is a skill that is important to us all regardless of where our life’s path takes us.
What are you up to currently?
I’ve just spent the winter flailing equally at learning to surf and improving my Spanish in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. More importantly, I met many wonderful people along the way. I’m now heading back to Alaska (my home) to work on a few projects before the Amherst summer session.
Do you have any advice for students preparing for their first Pre-College enrichment summer on an Excel program with Putney Student Travel?
The first step into a new situation is always the most difficult. Come to the summer program with an open mind and you will be rewarded with experiences and friends that you’ll remember forever. The culture here is based on the premise that interesting and fun experiences are the basis for learning, and I have personally seen the effectiveness of the concept. There are many options out there, but the combination of what Excel has to offer in terms of professional staff, great students, and a setting with so many activities to offer, makes Amherst a great choice for anyone looking for a fun, meaningful, and interesting summer experience.