Mobile Learning Lab Trainer/Technician

VISTA Name: 
Abby Balazs
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Abby’s year with the Mobile Learning Lab for Information Education (MoLLIE) was characterized by a transition of the project from a previous role of working in traditional classrooms to a new service area involving after-school programming for at risk children. Over half of the jobs MoLLIE took in the 2004-05 school year were at after school centers run by the School district in conjunction with the city Parks and Recreation Department.

MoLLIE taught participating children how to write, shoot, and edit, for cablecast, their own curriculum-linked skits, PSAs, and mini documentaries. As a MoLLIE trainer/technician, Abby was essential to the success of those programs.

Project Outcome: 

Other ongoing projects that Abby was crucial to the success of included:

- “Project Safe Neighborhoods” (U.S. Department of Justice) in which Abby facilitated the efforts of local youths at neighborhood associations and community centers in writing, shooting, performing, and editing their own Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on the subject of gun violence prevention.

- Wedgwood Christian Services of West Michigan. Similar to PSN, the Wedgwood project involved providing at-risk teens with the tools, training, and means of transmission to create their own mini documentaries and PSAs focusing on substance abuse prevention.

Both of these long term projects have been very successful due in large part to Abby’s commitment, diligence, professionalism, expertise, and willingness to work with at risk teens.

Abby’s final, and perhaps most lasting project, done in conjunction with previous VISTA/Americorps volunteers Laura Craig-Bennett, Amy McKenzie, and Jennifer Harris, has been the editing of a four-episode series of documentaries entitled “Girls to Governors” which commemorates the role of Michigan women in politics. Funded locally by the Nokomis foundation of Grand Rapids, the VISTA/Americorps producers of “Girls to Governors” seized upon the election in 2001 of Michigan’s first female governor, to examine the emerging role of women in local, state, and national politics and public service.

The editing of this series was the capstone event in and outstanding year of service provided by VISTA volunteer Abby Balazs. The VISTA program should be very proud to have Abby as an alumnae just as we are proud to have had her as an employee and team mate.

Impact Quote: 

Abby brings with her a high degree of expertise in her field which she is eager to share with students and colleagues alike. She is enthusiastic and very effective as a teacher, especially in a one-on-one setting. She has a warmth and a focus that children are very responsive to. Abby is setting a very high standard of performance in all aspects of her job with MoLLIE, and I am happy to have her as a member of the team.

Transmission Project