HAWAII AT WORK
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Terrence Quinsaat is a production technician at PBS Hawaii who also spreads the word to parents about the station's Ready to Learn program. Above, he conducted a workshop Tuesday for parents at Maili Elementary School.
Enjoying the balance
Terrence Quinsaat has two very different jobs at PBS Hawaii and he likes it that way
TERRY QUINSAAT was a student at the University of Hawaii when he started "back in the old days," about 10 years ago, working at PBS Hawaii, then known as Hawaii Public Television. The Moanalua High School graduate was doing television production work as a volunteer at the station. He also was taking regular classes at UH, working the morning news at Channel 8, lifeguarding at the Nuuanu YMCA and working in the UH Media Lab. He was a busy lad, to say the least.
Title: Ready to Learn outreach coordinator and production technician for PBS Hawaii
Job: Meets with parents statewide to tell them about PBS Hawaii's Ready to Learn program and helps with the production of the station's locally produced television shows
The communications major eventually was hired full-time by PBS Hawaii, initially as a production technician, but later also as the station's outreach coordinator for its Ready to Learn program, which, as one station executive put it last week, seeks to inform parents "how public television can be an educational tool in child rearing and not just a babysitter." Quinsaat, 33, is single and lives in Aiea.
So how was your visit (on Tuesday) with the parents from Maili Elementary School?
Answer: They were all right. It was a small group.
Q: Did the parents have any questions?
A: Here and there. Not the usual ones that I would have expected. Not the ones like I had at the first workshop.
Q: The first workshop?
A: Yeah, the first workshop (at Maili) was in late August, near the beginning of the school year. Usually we do the follow-up workshop within the first three months, because it's more effective that way.
Q: How many of these kinds of presentations do you make during the year?
A: This year we're doing close to 70 workshops. We're kind of going into our fourth year. The first year we did 25. The third year we did 60. So it's grown.
Q: What do you talk about at the meetings?
A: We talk about the Learning Triangle.
Q: What's that?
A: It's called, "View, read, do." Basically, we're the only station out there that says, "Turn off the television." Why? Because what parents should do is go beyond through reading books and doing hands-on activity that reinforces what we're trying to teach.
Q: What TV shows correspond to this program?
A: The main one that we use is "Between the Lines," because it has a lot of educational resources, not just on the television but also on the Web site (PBSkids.org).
Q: What is the Ready to Learn program?
A: In a nutshell, it's been going on for 12 years. It started off with 10 stations on the East Coast and grew from there to last year it was about 140 participating stations throughout the country.
Q: Is it federally funded?
A: Yep. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, which was a cooperative agreement between them and PBS. However, if you've been following Ready to Learn on the national level, you'll know that about $23 million was appropriated to new programming. We didn't lose the money; it was just redirected. So all the outreach guys had to go find funding elsewhere. But thanks to companies like Alexander & Baldwin Inc., the Mary and Walter Frear Eleemosynary Trust and the Pizza Hut Literacy Foundation, they're the ones that help continue the Ready to Learn outreach program locally.
At the presentations, what would be a typical question from a parent?
A: That's a tough one. I get a whole bunch of questions, from how many minutes of television should I be limiting my child to watching, to how many minutes should I be reading to my child. That's a typical question. The way I answer that question is, I don't think it's a matter of how many minutes you should be reading to your child, but are you reading to your child on a daily basis? It can be five minutes in the morning, five minutes at night, but it all adds up.
Q: When you're not making presentations, what keeps you busy at PBS Hawaii offices?
A: I multitask. I also do production, which I was mainly hired for back in '93, '94, doing the technical stuff. I went from 100 percent technical to now about 70 percent outreach, 30 percent technical.
I've grown to like what I'm doing now, I guess because my predecessor (Lia Salza) left behind a really good program. But if I get tired of it, I can do technical, and if I get tired of doing technical, I can do production. So it's a good balance.
Q: On the production side what would you be doing?
A: Multitasking. I do audio, camera work. ...
A: No. I used to edit when I was younger, but here at the station, I really like the technical part. Just doing those kinds of things.
I do other stuff, too. Like I work on the UH sports games with the K5 crew, doing camera work, gripping. ...
Q: How many other people do you work with?
A: Depending on the level I'm at, like if we're out on a remote, I have two students at most that we work with. If we're in the studio, maybe five to seven students, from setup of lighting and equipment to production.
Q: Why do they have you go into the community to talk to parents?
A: PBS would not exist without an outreach department, which means going out into the community and giving to the most needed places. So with the Ready to Learn, we target the low-income communities, especially those that have Title I schools -- schools with high free and reduced lunch, schools with low literacy scores, schools that have been awarded the Reading Excellence Act. I go on the state DOE's Web site and look up all those schools.
Q: How do you get the parents to show up at the meetings?
A: That's a tricky one. Normally, promotion is done by whoever is my contact or liaison. They come up with the creative idea. However, if they have none, then we come up with something. Like sometimes if you feed them food, people will show up. Other times we have reading nights. We have big crowds for those sometimes.
Q: What is reading night?
A: Some schools, if they have a reading coordinator, they provide all these reading programs for their school. Like every Wednesday of the first week they have a parent night, and parents show up to read to their kids, and do activities, because reading is important. It gets the family involved as a group. Sometimes the kids read to the parents. So being that it's part of our Learning Triangle, they (the school representatives) get us to guest speak at their reading nights as a presenter.
I also visit some of the schools with some of our costumed characters, who are Clifford the Big Red Dog and Arthur the Aardvark. We visit the preschools, the day care centers, the schools throughout the day, and that sometimes helps get the parents to the workshops. Like we had 200-plus parents and kids at the Kihei (Maui) turnout. That was in October.
Q: Do you go to the neighbor islands much?
A: Yes. Actually quite a few times. It's an island state and you cannot neglect the neighbor islands. And when you actually get there, they're very appreciative.
Q: Why were you chosen to represent the Ready to Learn program to parent groups?
A: My assumption would be that every time my predecessor would bring the parents into the studio, I would be like a magnet to the kids, because I like kids. And also I guess I'm kind of like a people person. So they decided to just throw me in and it worked out.
I really like doing what I do. More because there's a balance. I don't miss one or the other (outreach or technical). I like doing both.