Volunteer of the Month

Care to meet the elite team of supervolunteers whom we’ve honored over the years?

FridayOctober 2015

826michigan education advisory board--deana w., kathy f., and mary r.

The 826michigan Education Advisory Board

This spring we piloted a new project, based on the trailblazing efforts of intelligence at 826CHI (no wonder their theme is espionage)! We assembled an all-star A TEAM of educators to help advise us on programming decisions and best practices when working with students and volunteers about writing. Think of them as deep wells of knowledge, part Jedi Council, part Dumbledore’s Army, part Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Our meetings are full of experiment, curiosity, questions, thoughtful feedback, new ideas, wisdom, free-writes, reflection, and encouragement, and we couldn’t be more grateful to them for the time they’ve put into helping 826michigan this year and over the years as special advisors and friends.

Our Ed Committee provided a series of incredibly helpful sessions to our staff and interns over the summer, covering topics like motiving young writers, the socio-political history of education policy in the United States over the past fifty years, a closer look at National Council for Teachers of English Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing, preparing students for college writing, and program planning and evaluation. The conversations we had were incredibly important to our staff as we set about making program plans for the coming school year–they are conversations we continue each week with our volunteers and students, and our Ed Committee provided us with such a valuable framework for them. 

The committee meets every six weeks and between meetings, members help the staff by answering questions and directing us to new educational articles and ideas to consider. Since March, the committee has worked on helping our program department completely revise our volunteer training system: we’ve transitioned from leading individual program trainings into a streamlined, interactive and engaging general program training! This was a huge undertaking, but we’re already seeing the benefits, and we are so pleased to have such powerful, brilliant, dedicated teachers helping us lead the way.

We are grateful to two of our committee members emeritus, long-time partner teacher and 826 supporter Ben Curran and James and Grace Lee Boggs School support teacher Jasmine Noble, and to our founding board members Cathy Fleischer, Mary Roderique, and Deana Wojcik — how truly lucky for us to have you guiding, cheering, and teaching us always.

Cathy Fleischer

Cathy Fleischer is a former high school teacher and professor of English education and writing at Eastern Michigan University.  She is co-director of Eastern Michigan Writing Project for which she facilitates the Family Literacy Initiative, the teacher research group, and the Advocacy Initiative. She is also editor of the NCTE Principles in Practice Imprint and has written numerous books and articles on the teaching of writing. She’s also an 826michigan junkie and is so honored to be on the Education Advisory Committee. 


Mary Roderique



After working as a classroom teacher in New York City and Bloomington, IN, Mary Roderique moved to Ann Arbor for the desirable weather conditions. She teaches kindergarten for Ann Arbor Public Schools, works as a Writing Workshop Consultant for teachers in Michigan and Indiana, and blogs about raising young readers and writers. She also works with Colby the Service Dog to lead a Canine Assistants’ National Volunteer group, Noah’s Team of Ann Arbor.    


Deana Wojcik has a background as an educator and previously taught middle and high school English and History at the Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California.

Deana WojcikShe also taught Outdoor Education and Science at the Aspen Achievement Academy and the Montana Outdoor Science School, and has worked as an instructional coach for teachers in California, Montana, and Michigan. She is a founder of the Detroit Mushroom Factory and handles all outreach and education initiatives as well as the day-to-day operations of the farm.

WednesdaySeptember 2015

Alyssa Lopez asked us something during her internship in the summer of 2014 that stopped many a heart mid-beat: I love doing data entry–are there any other projects like this I can do? There are many important roles that 826michigan volunteers take on when it comes to our programs, and…

SaturdayAugust 2015

Jeff is a scientist and a musician, but it’s impossible to label him with just a few words, or for that matter, with just a few 826michigan programs.  For example, while he has taught multiple STEM-based writing workshops for us (Busting Bat Myths, Do You Dig It, and Sound and…

WednesdayJuly 2015

Noelle Sciarini, Volunteer Extraordinaire We often have folks come to us, wondering if there are volunteer opportunities for those who work nine-to-five, full-time-style jobs. We show them a picture of Noelle Sciarini, our July Volunteer of the Month.Okay, we don’t actually do that, but we COULD, because Noelle has found so many…

TuesdayJune 2015

Sometimes we celebrate more than one volunteer in a month, and usually it is because they work closely together in a program, are related by blood, or are married. This month, we have paired two volunteers who don’t have any of these in common—but they DO happen to share a last…

MondayMay 2015

  There is the League of Superheroes and there is Dumbledore’s Army and there is the Dead Poet’s Society and then, above them all, is the special triumvirate of Liberty Street Tutoring Interns, Katie, Ricky, and Emma. Every day Monday through Thursday these three important people make our program run,…

WednesdayApril 2015

If you’ve been to Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, you have likely encountered—perhaps even interacted with—the art of Elaine Reed, April’s Volunteer of the Month. RightBot, our human-sized robot not only displays faces of our students and recites the digits of Pi every five minutes*, it also provides endless…

WednesdayMarch 2015

“I’ll be cold for you.” These five words effectively sum up the amount of dedication and eagerness to help that our Volunteer of the Month, Cat Batsios, offers to the Detroit team. When it was uncertain if there would be enough support during a volunteer orientation session on a treacherously…

WednesdayFebruary 2015

  While a lot of 826 volunteers participate in many different programs, it seems that most have a favorite program, that is near and dear to their hearts. I think it is safe to say that Abby Ruehlmann, February 2015′s Volunteer of the Month, has found her favorite program at…

WednesdayJanuary 2015

One of the magical things about Lucy Huber (and trust us, there are MANY) is that she first came to 826michigan by way of another incredible 826er, Katie Jones, who left Michigan to pursue her graduate degree in writing in North Carolina. We had no idea how we would carry…

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