Katie Jones, Lauren Walbridge, and Sam Weiss!
As many of you know, it is very, VERY rare that we have more than one Volunteer of the Month. We have, three times before, made exceptions for special circumstances. February 2009 is most certainly a case of that. We knew we should pick one of the volunteers who has been working so tirelessly at Ypsilanti High School this year, but when it came right down to it, they’re all so incredible, it seemed unfair to pick only one.
We’ll start here: Last summer, we interviewed Sam Weiss to be a volunteer and IMMEDIATELY liked him. We liked him even more when, a few weeks later, he came in with an idea for an in-school writing/reading/critiquing/emulating project. And we liked him all over again when he agreed to lead the project, and was on board with it being this year’s in-school publication.
Enter Lauren, who signed on in August to be our second Publications Intern, and help out with the project. We liked her right away too. And then, days before our first day at Ypsilanti High, if memory serves correctly, Katie walked in as a new tutor, heard about the YHS project, and immediately signed on.
Essentially, these three have gone into Ypsi High every Thursday morning since the beginning of October and worked with two of Trudy Adams’s English classes. Under their guidance, the students have read and discussed several short stories, written lots of short pieces, and interviewed Dave Eggers and Sherman Alexie about craft.
We have high expectations for our volunteers, especially for a project like this one, but I think it is safe to say that these three volunteers have exceeded every possible hope that we had.
Trudy, the teacher, had an exclamation-point-ridden response when we thanked her just before holiday break. She wrote: “I have enjoyed this partnership equally as much as anyone else! Katie, Lauren and Sam have been fantastic! They are excellent with the kids, so respectful, accepting, encouraging, enthusiastic, focused! I can hardly believe the level of their commitment! They have not missed a day! As always, I love to see that my students get every enriching opportunity I can bring their way, so this is wonderful for all of us!”
And Mitra, a new volunteer who went into YHS last week to help the students polish their pieces said that the students pulled a “Wait! Who are you? KATIE AND SAM AND LAUREN ARE COMING BACK, RIGHT? RIGHT?” Which is, you must admit, adorable.
Personally, we are eternally grateful that we have found a really stunning crew of people to lead this off-site program. Lauren comes in on Thursdays to help out with the more tedious of the store tasks, and she always reports back the goings on at YHS. Katie tutors on Thursday afternoons, and does the same. They have planned, had meetings, written and responded to hundreds of emails, weathered good sessions and bad, and always maintained a positive attitude.
So thanks SO MUCH to Katie, Lauren, and Sam. You guys are making us look SO GOOD.