In the midst of all the recent changes at REACH, we also added a new Youth Education Specialist to our staff! We wanted to introduce you to Molly Pistrang, who may soon be coming to a classroom near you to talk to teens about healthy relationships.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a small town in Central Massachusetts called Princeton. After graduating from Wachusett Regional High School I attended Connecticut College for my undergrad. At Conn College I earned degrees in Literature (major) and Studio Art (minor) and explored the fields of French and philosophy. During a summer internship I taught poetry and soccer at the Boston branch of America SCORES, a national nonprofit. After graduating, I volunteered at Girls’ LEAP Self-Defense, tutored English and math at City on a Hill Charter Public School, and worked as an Americorps Fellow with Citizen Schools. These experiences at various educational nonprofits influenced my decision to pursue a Masters of Education in Community Arts with a Visual Arts Specialization at Lesley University. During my studies at Lesley I served as a writing tutor, worked as a graduate assistant doing curatorial work for an art gallery on campus, did research for their Women’s Center on Lesley’s current prevention efforts, and focused my studies on healthy relationship education through the arts.
What are some of your hobbies?
Being outside is my number one hobby. I love to hike, camp, run, play soccer, cross-country ski, and explore state and national parks. Growing up in Central MA and now living south of Boston has given me access to many trails and open spaces. I also enjoy creating; I love to read, write poetry, make art, and cook. Spending time with family and friends is also integral to my happiness and an important part of my self-care.
What are you most excited about in your new job?
It has been just over two months since I started working at REACH. In that time, I have gone through REACH’s comprehensive training. Throughout the training I learned about REACH’s services, methods, and philosophy, developed a greater sense of comfortability and purpose in my role as the Youth Education Specialist, and became closer with my colleagues and REACH’s volunteers and interns.
Another part of my role has been to work closely with the Waltham High School PAVE Peer Leaders. This peer leadership group creates space to discuss issues around relationship health. The Peer Leaders serve as role models to their peers, lead various community events, and develop leadership skills. I collaborate with the officers of the group to plan each meeting and determine who will facilitate each section. In the past two months the Peer Leaders have developed and led meetings, events, and workshops for youth in the Waltham community. We recently held an event at the Waltham Public Library that was attended by 43 teens! At that event we spoke about challenging topics but were able to share in productive dialogue.
I also have recently started my work in the classroom. It has been exciting to inherit a preexisting curriculum with the understanding that I have freedom to adjust it to my teaching style and philosophy. I am able to look at what has worked in the past and also consider the current complexities of each school community, the learning and developmental levels of students at each grade, and the logistical concerns of class length, time of day, and number of class periods. While in the schools I am able to learn from the students, faculty, and staff about the unique experiences of each community. During these conversations we collaboratively build knowledge about how we can have healthy relationships, no matter where we start.
To learn more about REACH’s and Molly’s work with teens, click here.