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TuesdayMarch 2011

I’ve spent the last month or so checking in on all of our In-school Residencies for this year. At the moment, we are working in seven different schools with fifteen teachers every week, totaling about twenty-five hours a week. Almost thirty volunteers help us do this very important work, helping teachers in their classrooms, and making meaningful connections with area students.

Last semester, I went into a class at Mitchell Elementary every Thursday. You can find out more about it here. This semester, I’ve been going into four classes at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti every Wednesday morning.

What kind of work do we DO in schools? Depends on the residency. On Wednesdays, I generally work with a student or a small group of students in the hallway on writing. Often revision, but sometimes new stories too. The last class I visit is usually the best part of my week. That’s because Corey and Cameron and Ni’Zere and I have a Writing Club. They write ridiculous and fantastic stories wherein I often make an appearance. Sometimes my brother does too, although they’ve never met him.

Tuesday mornings, volunteers work with students at Clemente, an alternative high school in Ann Arbor, to create work for this year’s in-school publication. At Adams Elementary in Ypsilanti, volunteers work with the TC, who pulls students out of class so they can work one-on-one with volunteers to complete missing assignments and catch up. (They ALSO have a Writing Club.)

Sometimes it’s small group work, or grading papers, or reading student work and commenting on it. Last week, at Perry Elementary in Ypsilanti, Whitney, a new volunteer, and I gave a math assessment to every student in Ms. Raphael’s class. It took about an hour, and when I left, I wondered where in the world the teacher would have been able to find the time in her busy day to do it. It made me feel pretty good.

Something else happened at Perry. Jacqui Robbins, an 826 board member who has been going into Perry on Tuesdays for a few months now, got to be the guest reader. March is Reading Month, as you may know. And you know what Jacqui read? HER OWN BOOK. That’s right, Jacqui has written two published children’s books. She told the class all about the process of writing and revising and revising and then revising more, and then finally getting the book.

Imagine the impact it would have on you if that nice lady who comes in and volunteers her time to help you out every week showed up with a book that she had written and told you all about how it came to be, inspiring you to do all the outlandish things in your first-grade brain.

I know that all of our volunteers are making a difference in classrooms all over our community. If you’d like to be a part of this important work, email me at Amy[at]826michigan[dot]com. We have residencies every single day of the week, and we always need caring adults to help out.

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115 East Liberty Street
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1351 Winder
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 818-0255