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TuesdayOctober 2008

Long-time readers of this blog might worry about my heart. They might worry that all this excitement, all this awesome-ness, all this constant-state-of-wonder, all this 826michigan might be too much for any one person to subject herself to full time. Is it healthy to feel this good and excited this much of the time? I may have the life-expectancy of a rabbit now, friends, but I can assure you it’s worth it.

Behold:

A few weeks ago, we told you about our incredibly exciting book project this year as part of our residency with Trudy Adams at Ypsilanti High School. If you missed that blog, you can find it here. We also mentioned that there would be more to come. We weren’t lying. Last week, we started our year-long in-school residency at Erickson Elementary School in Ypsilanti. Every Friday, we send in a team of six volunteers from 9am to 1:35pm. You must be curious about what they are doing during that time, and I’m happy to tell you: They’re helping teachers. This crew of amazing volunteers—three of whom are retired teachers themselves!—are working in five different classrooms helping five different teachers. They’re working with students who need extra one-on-one attention; they’re facilitating small group work; they’re grading papers and typing up student work for the chapbook we’re going to publish; they’re even running out and getting the teacher a latte if that is what the teacher wants. Even more exciting? Well, I’ll let one of the teachers, Karla, speak for herself:

Let me tell you … you guys are the most wonderful organization in the world! I had a very productive and exciting morning with the volunteers from 826michigan. Wow! It was great to have all of them in the room. I had each person work with two or three children. I can never get around to all the kids to have those really good conversations with children. The kids were geeked. The children spoke about the morning writing time the entire day and really look forward to next Friday. I think the number of volunteers is perfect and after speaking to the other teachers involved they agreed. These volunteers are really top notch! By the end of the day the word had gotten out about these volunteers and there was a buzz around me to find out how I went about getting these folks into our rooms. I was certainly the “Belle at the Ball.” During the break, one of the volunteers came down to type up my stories! I am pretty sure she was an angel because I swear I saw a halo! I let the kids illustrate the stories. We are going to put them into the hall to display. Well, what a wonderful day! Thank you!

Is the screen getting a little blurry from a wee bit of the welling tears of joy or is it just me? Pinch me. You can’t pay people to send you an email that good. When I get an email like this, I think, This is what it’s all about. Geeked students. A belle-at-the-ball teacher. Top notch volunteers. Stories on display. A general sense of Capital-EXCITEMENT.

My heart is racing. I just returned from Chapelle Community School, another elementary school in Ypsilanti, where we have just solidified the plans for another year-long in-school residency. We’ll have updates on that when we begin in a few weeks. We have been laying the groundwork for these programs for the last three years, and it’s a wonderful lesson when you learn that patience and dedication really pay off sometimes. I … need to … catch my … breath for a minute …

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