My name is Becky Wandel and I am currently a Youth Media Producer at PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. I had the privilege of being both a participant and a counselor at Five Star Theatre Company between 2007 and 2018. I began my time with Five Star when I was 10 years old as a member of the ensemble in our production of "Once on This Island." It was my first time ever being up on stage and, thanks to the passion and expertise of the counselors and directors who guided me there, an experience that made me fall in love with performing. I continued on as a participant for the next 5 summers and solidified lifelong friendships with my fellow participants. The creative and affirming environment at Five Star pushed me to try new things -- like dancing, costume designing, poetry writing and more -- all while feeling safe and supported by directors, counselors and fellow participants.
I was lucky enough to return to Five Star as a counselor for two summers while I was a college student. I discovered a passion for working with young people that has shaped my career. In my current role, I work closely with a diverse range of middle and high school students studying journalism. I find myself thinking often of lessons I learned as a Five Star counselor -- treating children with respect and patience, working hard to create a caring atmosphere, and most importantly, being open to learning from kids just as much as I hope they're learning from me. At Five Star, I taught workshops in music theory and self-expression through art that helped me become the educator I am today. I even still have some of the participants' creations from the latter workshop hanging in my apartment! Five Star is an incredibly special place that has helped generations of young people like me find confidence in ourselves and our place in the world.
Youth Media Producer, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs