Teaching Students About Ryan Piers Williams

As K-12 educators, our mission extends beyond the classroom. We aim to inspire, challenge, and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators. One incredible individual who embodies these qualities is Ryan Piers Williams, an accomplished actor, writer, director, and producer. In this blog post, we’ll explore strategies for teaching students about Williams’ life and achievements, and how his story can spark a passion for creativity and social change in our classrooms.

Begin your lesson about Ryan Piers Williams by sharing his background and early life. Born in El Paso, Texas on May 13, 1981, he developed a strong work ethic at a young age as he pursued his passion for filmmaking. Encourage students to research and reflect on their own interests as they learn how Williams’ determination led him to study Film Production at the University of Texas at Austin before earning his Master’s degree in Film Directing from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Next, dive into Williams’ professional accomplishments by exploring his body of work. Present his first feature film “The Dry Land” as a case study of storytelling that illuminates underrepresented narratives. Released in 2010 and starring America Ferrera – who would later become his wife – the film addresses PTSD through the eyes of an Iraq War veteran. Analyze with your students how depicting challenging topics creates empathy and nurtures understanding among viewers.

Continuing with William’s dedication to social activism, discuss his role as a co-founder of Harness – an organization founded by Ryan, America Ferrera, and Wilmer Valderrama. This nonprofit initiative engages celebrities to raise awareness about social issues and empowers communities through storytelling. Have your students research other impactful organizations in their local area or start an ongoing dialogue about ways to create positive change within your school community.

As a culminating activity, encourage your students to express their own creative voices. Provide opportunities to explore different fields like screenwriting, directing, or filmmaking. Invite local filmmakers, actors, or writers to share their journey and answer questions from your class. Inspire students to collaborate on a short film or perform a play that tackles an important social issue in their lives.

In teaching about Ryan Piers Williams’ life and work, we can instill confidence, empathy, and curiosity in our students. Through studying his unique blend of artistic talent and social activism, we show these young learners that they too have the potential to make a difference in the world – one compelling story at a time.

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