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FridayOctober 2015

Welcome to 826michigan’s tenth anniversary! In 2015, we’re celebrating ten years of 826michigan by highlighting ten people who have significantly shaped our organization since 826michigan opened its doors in 2005.  Follow along with former 826michigan Communications Coordinator Amy Wilson this year as she explores how the contributions of many individuals have contributed to 826michigan’s evolution: from a tiny operation to a full-fledged nonprofit organization serving over 3,000 young people in Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor.

catherine, edwin, amanda, and emma

Catherine, Edwin, Amanda, and Emma

EDWIN HOFFMAN, 2014

“I didn’t think I was intelligent when I started going to 826michigan. Working with tutors helped me study better and feel like a better student. It helped me feel capable and made me feel like I could accomplish more. I feel more capable to complete what I need to do. Certain study skills, social skills, I’ll definitely take into real life.”

It’s hard to believe it, but we’re nearing the end of our exploration of the first ten years of 826michigan.  We’ve heard from a parent of 826michigan students, an 826michigan board member, a local business owner, a local funder, a writer, a former 826michigan staff member, a partnering teacher, and a volunteer –– and I can only hope that through all of their voices combined we’re beginning to hear and understand a little bit of what’s been happening in and around 826michigan since 2005.

For our last two Ten-for-Ten profiles, I’m turning the microphone over to the people whose stories are ultimately 826michigan’s most important: the students, of course!

Edwin Hoffman is a 2015 graduate of Ann Arbor’s Huron High School. He first attended 826michigan’s after-school tutoring program in October 2009 as a seventh-grader who needed a little bit of extra help with math. He was a regular that school year, and he then continued to participate in 826michigan’s programs throughout middle school and early high school. In 2014—his senior year—Edwin returned to 826michigan’s tutoring program on a regular basis. He finished high school strong and is attending Washtenaw Community College this fall.

For all of us at 826michigan, seeing Edwin come back to tutoring was really special. We got to know him pretty well when he was working with us the first time, so it was great to check back in and to see him graduate and move on to a new journey. Did it make us feel a bit old? Perhaps. But hey, we’re ten-years-old now—we earned the right to feel old!

Let’s hear more from Edwin.

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edwin in 12th grade“I was born in Frederick, MD. I moved to Ann Arbor to when I was about six, but we went to North Carolina in the summer so I stayed in the south quite a bit. I went to Burns Park Elementary, Tappan Middle School, and Huron High School. My mom moved us up here to be closer to my grandparents. I don’t know how she heard about it but it was my mom who told me about 826michigan and suggested that I go to it. I went there for the first time when I was in 7th grade, October 2009, for after-school tutoring.

I really liked it. I worked with someone named Lindsay — we worked together almost every time I went there. I was working on a lot of graphing, fractions, getting into equations and stuff like that. Lindsay was good at math and she really helped me. She was the first tutor I worked with, and I worked with her the longest. I worked with her fifteen, maybe twenty times. It was great. You don’t have to start over each time, you can just kind of pick up where you left off.

It helped me improve. Being part of 826michigan was definitely for the best; it helped me to get my homework done. I started just with math, then branched off into English and science. I received an A in my math class in the end of the year. That was one class. If I hadn’t come to 826michigan to do my homework, I don’t know if I would have failed, but I definitely know I wouldn’t have done as well. I wouldn’t have been able to figure nearly as much stuff out.

I also went to 826michigan during eighth grade. Ninth and tenth grade I went less because my schedule was busy; I had a lot of after-school activities. Eleventh grade I started going regularly again. Senior year I went all the time. I had a more open schedule and I thought I should take advantage of 826michigan. I had another friend at the time who was going and I decided to come along.  I had more difficult subjects to work on. I didn’t really have much of a math class my sophomore year, then junior and senior year it changed. I had to start working again. I thought I would come back and give it another try. I liked that I could come whenever it went with my schedule.

826michigan looked different when I came back — the furniture was moved around, and you get new people every year basically. You’d get new tutoring interns and you’d have some people that would be there different days — it changed up from one person to another, but the atmosphere was still the same. I remember people named Nadia, Beth, Eric, and Emily. There was a even person who volunteered in the store named Anna. I remember when she moved to Hawaii.

edwin in 7th grade

I worked with 826michigan on writing too. I took a few of the creative writing workshops.  I definitely had help with a lot of papers, later on when I was coming later in high school. My tutors at 826michigan helped me to shape my papers and see how to write something more creatively. Being creative is and has been important to me.

I just graduated from high school. I’m going to Washtenaw Community College in the fall. I’m excited because it’s a small environment. I’m thinking of studying acting and art, American history, environmental science, and geography. I would like to be in the entertainment business— a musician and an actor. I also want to do something with auto engineering because I was interested in cars when I was younger. I’ll probably take a metal-working class, and then art, music, and drama. I have a lot of ambitions. I just want to explore.

826michigan helped me socially. It offered social interaction with nice people. It helped me be more interested in studying and thinking how important it is to be educated. My tutors made me feel like I was able to do the schoolwork better than I thought I was able to. I didn’t think I was intelligent when I started going to 826michigan. Working with tutors helped me study better and feel like a better student. It helped me feel capable and made me feel like I could accomplish more. I feel more capable to complete what I need to do.

Certain study skills and social skills that I developed at 826michigan, I’ll definitely take into real life. I’ll feel more capable of studying. I’ll feel more like I’m able to do my work. That’ll all benefit me greatly in the future. I definitely recommend 826michigan to anyone in the area who needs it. I know there are 826’s around the country. But there needs to be one in the south!”

***

 To me the most touching part of Edwin’s story about 826michigan is how precisely he recalls the people he worked with in our programs. To hear, six years later, that he remembers working with a volunteer named Lindsay for fifteen to twenty sessions when he was in seventh grade –– it just gives me the feeling for the real importance of what 826michigan does, beyond the (also important—don’t get me wrong!) day-to-day of math homework and grades. Edwin says that interacting with “nice people” in his time at 826michigan helped him acquire important social skills he’ll take forward with him into real life. That’s where it’s at!

It also strikes me how comfortable Edwin felt availing himself of 826michigan’s programs in a way that worked for his changing needs as a student. When he needed tutoring less, he would attend less, and when he needed tutoring more he knew it was there for him. That’s exactly what we’re going for, flexibility combined with stability. “It changes up from one person to another but the atmosphere was just the same,” Edwin says of his return to 826michigan. We’re certainly glad to be able to offer that.

After ten years, we’ve seen a fair number of 826michigan’s students grow up, graduate and begin their lives in the world as adults. A few of them, like Jeannette Jackson’s daughter Madeleine Bradford, have returned to work with 826michigan again as volunteers and interns. Perhaps someday we’ll see Edwin as part of 826michigan programs in this way, but no matter what, he’ll always be part of our organization and we’ll always be proud of him! Edwin is one in our new, exciting group of 826michigan representatives—826michigan alumni. It’s thrilling to think about what their stories might be over the next ten years and beyond.

Next month, our last Ten-for-Ten profile will feature present-day 826michigan.

Amy Wilson is a writer living in New York City. From 2010-2014, she was a member of 826michigan’s staff.

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