One of the most unique aspects of Fund for Teachers is how our Fellows (9,000+ to date) support each other. From providing feedback on potential Fellows’ applications to collaborating in Innovation Grant Circles, Fund for Teachers is an organization of teachers, for teachers. Perhaps the best example of this reciprocal relationship is our mentor program, which begins a new year in May.
To understand why a teacher would take on this additional responsibility, we reached out to Adam Burns (Troy, MI) who mentored Doug Haddad last year. With his 2016 Fellowship Grant, Adam experienced British broadcasting center studios, filming locations and museums to better prepare students for careers in broadcasting and other globalizing industries. Through a matching process in which both mentors and mentees participate, Adam was paired with Doug Haddad (Simsbury, CT), who used his 2020 grant to learn writing, directing, camera and digital editing skills for collaboration on a long term film-based project for the school and community.
I’ve always felt a debt of gratitude to Fund for Teachers and I appreciate opportunities to try to give back. I enjoy reading about the cool projects going on through FFT, and the mentorship program offered the possibility of networking. It sounded like a great chance to get connected with the teachers behind the projects and share some ideas, maybe even explore some class partnership opportunities.
It’s really easy and fun to talk to someone who is passionate about the same stuff as you, and I understood exactly where Doug was starting from and what he was trying to learn because I got into film the same way. We both had the opportunity–to start a program from nothing–and I know I couldn’t have done it without guidance from film teachers in my area. We both had to find all funding for equipment on our own and I know how crucial decisions are when you want to make your budget have as big an impact as possible. I think equipment discussions and figuring out what to buy were some of our most important topics of conversation. Each piece of your kit adds new possibilities to your filmmaking direction, so it’s pretty essential to balance what students want and need, what you are confident in using, and what will expand your creative horizons when making decisions for an equipment list.
I knew what teaching film has done for me professionally and personally, and how impactful my film-focused fellowship was for my students and school community. The opportunity to guide someone through something similar was invigorating for me, but any success Doug and I had was attributable to the initial match and the energy he brought to it. I’m pretty amazed he saw it all the way through and will be having the premiere for his film soon. I know how challenging it is to make a film, to navigate all of the roadblocks, and persevere through the endless opportunities the process will offer up to take the easy route and quit. That he has made it through is huge for his students. He has lived what he’s going to ask from them and will understand what they’re going through when they undertake the challenge of making a film.
It’s gratifying to know there’s going to be a generation of students who now get an invaluable chance to work in the greatest storytelling medium ever created, a chance they wouldn’t have had if Doug hadn’t gone for this fellowship opportunity. I am happy to have played any role at all in helping him make that happen.
“Adam was nothing short of incredible in his wisdom and guidance to help me carve out a path to achieve this goal. He was the absolute perfect match for a mentor and someone I look up to in all of his accomplishments in starting his film crew of students who have created award-winning videos. I am truly grateful for all the opportunities provided and this would not have been possible without the grant received through FFT.” – Doug Haddad
If you are an FFT Fellow interested in either being a mentor or a mentee, send us a quick e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in being a mentor can access this recent webinar and 2020/2021/2022 FFT Fellows pursuing a fellowship this summer are invited to a mentee can also join a webinar on April 28th at 6p CST. Register with this link.