Archive for the 'Project Proposals' Category

Updated Project Proposal

Since I posted my initial proposal, I have done more research into retirement community advertising geared towards William and Mary Alumni.  I also found the Williamsburg chapter of the Alumni Association has a Facebook page and just looking through the pictures has been informative.  Below I describe some of my findings. Towards the end of the entry, I discuss my plan for the next few weeks. I also describe some of the brainstorming I have done to try to narrow the focus of my project that will hopefully create a more in-depth study of alumni returning to Williamsburg.

Professor Glosson has been kind enough to forward the chapter’s upcoming events emails to me. The two events that have taken place this semester conflicted with prior commitments I made.  However, I plan to contact the chapter over break (I wanted to wait to schedule interviews until both assignment three and the peer interview projects were complete so I was sure I was prepared to use the equipment, etc.) and try to attend an event (if they’ll permit).  Based on the photos from recent events, there seems to be a core group of people who attend the monthly chapter events, though I was surprised by just how many people attend the events.  Most of the pictures I looked at are of alumni who appear to be over 60 years old.  If this is the case, one could guess they are retired and are able to commit more time to the chapter.  For larger events, like the Yule Log celebration, there seemed to be an even larger group of people and there was a big age range.  While most of the attendees appeared to be 60 years old or older, there were quite a few people who appeared to have graduated within the last 10-15 years.  I am pretty sure one of the people is a recent graduate since he looks very familiar.  I hope that by attending an event, or contacting a few of the members, I can have a better understanding of why alumni return to Williamsburg.  Moreover, I think it would be interesting to figure out why people feel such a connection or commitment to the alumni chapter in Williamsburg.  The reason why I ask this is because the interviews with both Clay Riley and Lance Pedigo made it clear that Williamsburg has a small town feel and is a place where one can go anywhere and see someone he or she knows.  Moreover, if people live in retirement communities, they are likely to make a group of friends or at least have social events within their communities.  If that is the case, then why would a William and Mary-specific group (the alumni chapter) be such a draw?  In other words, I want to figure out why an alumni chapter (a William and Mary community) has so much meaning in the lives of some of the alumni living in Williamsburg – Does a void exist? If so, how does the alumni chapter fill it?

I have also begun brainstorming possible interviewees (I do not want to put their information out on this blog since it is public) by going through recent Alumni magazine articles as well as thinking about professors I have gotten to know over the last four years here.  I realize one could say a professor’s decision of where to live is limited since it is dependent on where they find a job opening, but there are quite a few professors who graduated from William and Mary and became professors here (Was it just good timing? What was the process of getting a job here?).  Additionally, I think it would give a very different account than alumni who decided to come back to Williamsburg later in life, or decided to live in Williamsburg (i.e. had more job options available to them in Williamsburg).

The Alumni Magazine has also been a helpful resource.  It not only has articles about alumni (some of whom live in Williamsburg) but it also has many retirement community advertisements specifically targeting alumni.  I plan to continue to look through the magazines to see how the retirement community advertisements for alumni have evolved over time.

I have not changed any of the research questions that I posed in my initial proposal.  At this point, I feel like I need to do a little more research before narrowing my focus.  As I stated before, I plan to do more research over break and be ready to start revising them when we return. However, as you can see in my observations above, I have posed more questions.  I have considered limiting the scope of my project to a specific age group of alumni (recent graduates, middle-aged or retirees) in order to create a more focused project.  I have tried to think of other ways to narrow the focus of my project but have had some trouble.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Updated Project Proposal

With this updated project proposal I hope to elaborate more on the specifics of what I plan researching compared to my original proposal. With the overarching topic–Special Education in Williamsburg as a case study for national Special Education evolution in America–I plan on interviewing knowledgeable subjects in order to understand the personal changes that have occurred as well. I hope to interview current and former Special Education teachers, members of the Williamsburg Special Education Advisory committee, and Professors at the William and Mary School of Education who focus in Special Education. While certainly the scope of my project should focus on the areas that my subjects are most familiar with, I hope to investigate some of the earliest advancements in Special Education in the 1960s to the most recent changes in 2013. Fruitful topics will hopefully illuminate the ways in which national level changes such as congressional bills and Supreme Court verdicts actually impacted classrooms in Williamsburg and teaching styles at William and Mary. So far a rough version of my timeline includes; the creation of the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped and Office of Special Education Programs in the mid 1960s, the passage of the Education for All-Handicapped Children Act in 1975 and its various amendments, the passage of Individuals With Disabilities Education Act in 1990 and its various amendments, No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. Important Supreme Court Cases include Hendrick Hudson School v. Rowley (1982), Roncker v. Walter (1983), and Honig v. Doe (1988). I am very interested in discussing the various debates in the field such as Special Education funding, the problems with I.Q. tests, the necessity of toddler and pre-school Special Education, the arguments for full inclusion, and the ways in which race and class intersect with Special Education. I hope my interviewees will be able to discuss the success and difficulties of enacting these legislations and navigating these debates. The teachers and professors will be able to discuss the ways in which particular techniques have been put to use. I certainly think my project will evolve and narrow as I continue my research and conduct interviews. Currently, I am finding plenty of information on Special Education nationally, but I am struggling to find detailed information on the history of Williamsburg education. I think my interviews will provide much of this information and my interviewees will hopefully point me in the right direction with where to find resources. They will certainly also point me in the direction as to where Special Education services could go in the future.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Updated Proposal

I have narrowed the scope of my project since I posted my original proposal.  Rather than looking at both All Together and Big Brothers Big Sisters in Williamsburg, I now hope to focus solely on the latter. I realized that, while All Together is a great organization that works to improve race and cultural relations in Williamsburg, it is more adult-related.  Since the topic of this course is youth, I figured that I should just more deeply investigate the Williamsburg chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters which aims to mentor children and help them “realize their potential and build their futures.”  I still want to look at how this organization addresses the problem of youth marginalized by poverty. I also hope to do some more research on the effects of marginalization and look at how Big Brothers Big Sisters tries to minimize these repercussions.

I have compared Williamsburg and the state of Virginia Census information to get a better idea about where Williamsburg stands as far as socioeconomic disparity and poverty.  There is also a great website called which is “a map of income and rent in every neighborhood in every city in America.”  This fascinating, pictoral representation of statistics has really helped me put isolated poverty into perspective, especially in the Williamsburg area.  On this map, you can zoom in far enough to see specific Census districts, which correlate with certain neighborhoods in the area.  This would be really helpful to use for my research if I find areas where poverty is concentrated and to look at areas where Littles and Bigs may be concentrated.   I hope to use this information as background for my research done with Big Brothers Big Sisters.  I have also gathered a couple articles about poverty in Williamsburg and Big Brothers Big Sisters that I hope to go through over Spring Break.  One article that Professor Glosson showed me has fascinating comments from residents at the bottom.  I have not looked at these extensively, but I hope that they will give me a good idea about how Williamsburg residents perceive the poverty problem.  I will also look for more when I am at home with more time to devote to the research process.

I plan to go to the Big Brothers Big Sisters office on friday to gather any pamphlets or materials that could be helpful to me in preliminary research about the organization.  Its website is full of information and I hope to be able to peruse it more over spring break.  I am working on setting up a meeting with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Williamsburg Program Manager, and I have also asked her if she has any recommendations of other people to contact.  I am very excited to meet and possibly record an interview with the Program Manager so I can learn more about how, if at all, the Williamsburg chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters tailors the program to the specific needs of Williamsburg.  I would also like to find out more specifically which problems the program and Bigs aim to address the most and how they go about doing this. I also wonder if any of the Bigs or Littles happen to be isolated into certain geographic areas.  I would really like to interview a Big and a Little together to look at the dynamics of their relationships and to get a more personal idea about what the program provides for both the Bigs and Littles. I would also love to find someone in the area who was a Little growing up and interview him or her about their experience. I have found that some other resources in my initial bibliography may not be very useful to me, but I hope that the majority of my research will come from interviews and personal interactions anyway.

Updated Proposal

Quite a lot of time has passed since my last proposal and with that time I have been able to mold my research into a better topic. In my original proposal I stated that I wanted to connect the history of recreational sports as well as their impact within the the city of Williamsburg. After talking things over with Prof. Sarah Glosson I realized that that may not be the best route to choose. This research is suppose to be informative so that people years in the future are able to read it. With that in mind I have decided to document personal accounts of athletic events that took place in Williamsburg and solely focus on what happened rather than their siginificance to the community.

First, with the help of some research librarians over at Swem, I was able to research and locate different events that took place in regards to Williamsburg. Of the many things I found I decided that I wanted to focus on three in particular with the first being the Cal Ripken World Series which was held in Williamsburg in 2002. This event invited teams from all over the United States to play in a tournament to determine who had the best 12 year old travel baseball team in the country. As one can imagine this was a very large event. It just so happens that one of my teammates on the baseball team here at WM played on one of those teams. I plan to interview him and elaborate on his eyewitness account of the series.

Next, I learned of a soccer camp by the name of Tidewater Soccer Camp. This camp was started in the late 70’s early 80’s by Al Albert, who at the time was the men’s head soccer coach at the College. This camp ranged from youth groups of all types. In a nutshell, the camp was a week long and campers would live in campus housing and enjoy the many thrills that came along with a traditional summer camp, it just so happened that they played soccer throughout the day as well. Although I am not sure how to get in contact with Mr. Albert, his assistant in that camp is fittingly the women’s head soccer coach here at the College now. I plan to get in touch with him for his account of what took place.

Lastly, I have been working with Prof. Sarah Glosson on a third person to interview. I am hoping to find someone that can give me an account of the WISC. I would like to document how it was built, why it was necessary, etc. I think that it would be a very nice addition to the documenting of Williamsburg.

ACA and Williamsburg – Updated Project Proposal

I will explore the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Williamsburg. I am interested in learning about both the perception of federal health care reform in 2009 and the reception of federal health care reform today, in 2013.

I will evaluate the 2009 perception of national health care reform through my investigation of three local media sources: the Daily Press, the Virginia Gazette, and the WY Daily. When I interview individuals for my paper, I will also ask them to think back to 2009 and what they thought about the need for health care reform when President Obama first took office.

I will also look at those three media sources for information about contemporary attitudes towards the ACA. When I interview individuals for this project, I will ask them about their views of the legislation today.

It is possible that, eventually, I will focus on just one of these aspects of Williamsburg’s perspective of health care reform. For now, I want to keep my topic a bid broad so I have more options to work with rather than fewer.

I outlined below my three main sources: the media, politicians, and physicians. For the media aspect of my project, I am working with Martha Higgins at Swem to figure out the best, most efficient way to cull through these newspapers. I will meet with her after spring break to discuss a final plan of action. I received the names of the following political players from Prof. John McGlennon of the Government Department provided me with the names of these individuals. I will contact these individuals the week after spring break and mention him because he is my mutual acquaintance. Finally, for the physicians, Lance Pedigo and Sarah Glosson provided me with Dr. Schultz and Ms. Butler’s information. Clay Riley told me about Dr. Brown. When I call their offices to make appointments to meet with them, I will mention Pedigo, Glosson, and Riley.

I look forward to completing these interviews in March. I hope that together, these three groups – the media, politicians, and doctors – will present a complete and clear picture of Williamsburg’s perception and reception of the Affordable Care Act.

Here are my various primary sources:


Daily Press

Virginia Gazette

WY Daily



Judy Knudson – City Councilwoman; former executive director of Olde Towne Medical Clinic


Jen Tierney – James City County Democrats; wife of Prof. Mike Tierney


Amanda Etter Johnston – James City County Republicans



Dr. Roger Schultz – Urology


Alison Butler – Nurse Practitioner and wife of Dr. Roger Schultz


Dr. Joseph Brown III – Family Practice; long time Williamsburg resident


The Affordable Care Act and Williamsburg

For my project, I am interested in exploring the reception of the Affordable Care Act in Williamsburg. After speaking with Prof. Glosson, Helis, and Martha Higgins at Swem, I have narrowed down my methodology in exploring this topic. I am interested in reading about and listening to how various players in Williamsburg viewed the proposal of national health care reform in 2009. I will also explore how these groups feel about the legislation today.

The first group I am interested in surveying is the local media. Through Access World News and microfilm databases in Swem, I will cull the archives of the Daily Press and the Virginia Gazette for any mentions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – particularly in the op-ed sections. Considering op-ed pieces are meant to assess the general opinion climate of a the locality, these op-eds will provide me with a sense of the overall sense of Williamsburg’s stance towards the ACA.

I am also interested in hearing from the typical Williamsburg resident. It is not feasible to interview random people on the street so Prof. Glosson pointed me to the Virginia Gazette’s Last Word section. Although journalists do not write these excerpts, they could provide me with a perspective from an average Williamsburg resident.

Aside from the media, I hope to interview local politicians who may have a greater understanding of how the ACA affects Williamsburg politically. Will the Medicaid population greatly increase? Will local clinics request more city money to accommodate a spike in patients? Does this democratic legislation affect local political tensions? I hope these interviews address the political repercussions and responses of the legislation.

Finally, I am interested in learning how clinicians in Williamsburg feel about the legislation. I am specifically interested in hearing about the perspectives of those who work in free clinics, such as the Lackey Free Clinic and/or the Olde Towne Medical Center. These physicians will be able to tell me how this legislation will impact the health of Williamsburg.

Together, these four groups – the media, average citizens, politicians, and doctors – will present a complete and clear picture of Williamsburg’s perception and reception of the Affordable Care Act.

Youth Athletics in Williamsburg

First and foremost I have to say that our trip to the regional library was very helpful. I don’t exactly remember (or ever knew) what the man’s name was that helped us, however he took a lot of stress out my job. By working with him I was also able to develop my topic and think about things that I previously did not identify as possible avenues for my paper. For instance, I originally thought that I would focus intently on recreational sports such as the ones that are in association with the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex (WISC). After talking with our librarian friend I realized that it would be much more invasive to research not just the sports complex but also the history of sports and how they may or may not relate to the surrounding schools. Although I find the connection to the schools quite intriguing, I feel that I would run into a lot of problems. Recreational sports aren’t always run through schools, they are separate entities entirely that are influenced by schools.

For this project I hope to really grasp the importance of youth athletics to the Williamsburg community. I would like to learn how the community is impacted by each sporting event and what it means to the children as well as the families. From what I have gathered I see Williamsburg as a family friendly environment that welcomes unity. Athletics not only provide the unity that this community prides itself on but they also instill core family characteristics that run parrallel to the ideologies I have come in contact with here in the town. I believe, from personal experience, that youth athletics provide building blocks that help shape a child’s life in ways that other stimuli can’t. This will be one of my main points I will hammer home when interviewing people around town. After that has been addressed I plan on asking the person to elaborate on memories that I can draw from down the line.

My idea for this project is still quite vague. However, within the next few days (possibly weeks) I plan to have a project that is beneficial not only to my individual learning but also to the future generations of Williamsburg.

Project Proposal: Walsingham Academy

I attended Catholic schools my whole life until coming to the College of William and Mary in the fall of 2009. Catholic schooling was a huge part of my life growing up- one that I absolutely loved. Because of this love for Catholic schools and my heavy involvement in the Catholic community on campus and in the Williamsburg community, I have decided to research Walsingham Academy for my Williamsburg Documentary Project research project. Researching a school is also obviously very pertinent to our topic of “youth” this semester.

Walsingham Academy opened in 1947 with fifty-eight students and continues to be the only Catholic school in Williamsburg, now boasting a student population of over 700 students. In my investigation of the school, I plan on learning more about the school’s history, especially its history as part of the Williamsburg community. I want to learn more about the impact of the school on the town and vice versa. I plan on collecting oral histories of students who currently attend the school and hopefully many from alumni. I would also like to talk to teachers and maybe even parents of students. Private schools have a unique relationship with any community they are a part of, so I would like to find out more about the specific unique relationship Walsingham has with the Williamsburg community. I very much look forward to getting started on this project.


WDP Research Proposal

I am editing my research proposal as Professor Glosson and I have discussed a new potential topic for my Williamsburg Documentary Project.

Schools make up a lot of a towns history. Every child attends school, generations of people in the same family could attend the same school for decades, and schools employ many of a town’s residents as well. What Professor Glosson pointed out is that there is not a complete history of the different schools in Williamsburg. It is my goal, through historical documents as well as oral histories I will collect to start to create a catalog of the histories of the different schools in the Williamsburg area.

A lot has occurred in the Williamsburg school system in the past hundred years or so. There, of course, was integration after the Civil Rights movement, but there was also the addition of the James City County schools to the Williamsburg school system. With the oral histories I will collect, I can not only get the factual information about the Williamsburg schools but first hand accounts of students’ and teacher’s lives.

I will look at the information available on the school system at the Williamsburg Public Library, as well at the detailed information from Swem’s special collections (especially on the Matthew Whaley school).


“Ghost-lore” of Williamsburg

My proposal is centered around ghost folklore of the Williamsburg area. I know this isn’t especially youth oriented and there’s a lot that remains to be fleshed out with my project, but this seems especially interesting to me. In a round about way, ghost folklore stories are related to youth because some can be used as spooky tales that parents and adults tell children. I also think that it is important to document any kind of folklore because it is a form of oral history.

I located a book by a local author, L.B. Taylor, called The Ghosts of Williamsburg. He has written several volumes about the ghosts of Virginia. Before that he was a journalist for NASA and other aerospace related operations. I want to revisit some of the places he documented as “haunted” and see if I can glean any additional information from people in the area. I’d like to find out how they came to know the stories.

I will trace the history of the site and try to discover the origins of the folklore. I hope to talk to local ghost touring companies and enthusiasts to gather any additional information that they might add. I’m mostly interested in the reason for the stories and/or maybe how the touring companies and enthusiasts grew interested in the folklore. I will remain focused on the historical aspects and not deviate into whether or not ghosts are real. I’m mostly seeking to document what they (the stories) entail and how they came to be. So far there seems to be a lot of areas that are associated with ghost tales. I think it will be fun and enlightening.

Ghost folklore as a form of entertainment also has the ability to teach history. In a fun way people can learn about the local heroes, old families, and events because you have to set up the scene. In that way they have historic value. I think that Ghost Tours associated with Colonial Williamsburg would be the most accurate in the way of the historic narrative, but there is still the possibility of stumbling upon new historically relevant information. I hope that I am able to gather some fantastic oral histories and help add to the WDP. Much more to come.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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