The picture at right, our favorite photo from our Holiday Potluck (and yes, we photoshopped in the pool, what kind of writing center do you think we’re running here?), sort of sums up Billie Lanigan’s personality. With her adorable son, Seamus, looking on with faux embarrassment, and Erin (far right) her partner-in-crime in hamming it up, what words come to mind when you look at that face? Fun loving? Sure. A little crazy? You bet. Probably hilarious? And how. Someone you’d like to have around? Absolutely.
Billie has been one of our star tutors for, well, a while now. It can’t possibly be since the beginning, but we can’t remember a time when she didn’t show up about an hour early with a big cup of coffee, a pile of her own schoolwork, and a smile. We came to admire not only the way she worked with students, but also how nice she was to everyone, just a genuinely friendly, positive person, always ready to share a story and a laugh.
Then, this fall, she took on one of the most taxing, fun, demanding, creative, tiring positions we have at 826michigan: she became the storyteller for our weekly Storytelling and Bookmaking field trips. It is no easy feat to keep twenty-five excited, full-of-insane-ideas first and second graders seated and focused for two hours, but Billie always managed to pull it off. Sure, she might’ve shaved a year or two off her own life trying to patiently remind students that a sponge who lives under the sea is not an original character, or that a “spider” is not actually a setting or a conflict, but she did it with grace and style and always, always a sense of humor.
And, aside from all the great stuff she does as a volunteer, did you ever have that cousin who was, like, super cool? You know, one who had, like, an incredible record collection, and would tell you stories, for example, about hanging out with INXS, or the time she actually kissed Adam Ant? Billie’s that cousin. And while that cousin probably wouldn’t do this, Billie’s also the type who shows up with a big box of homemade cookies and buckeyes (yum!) at Christmas.
With that mix of happiness and sadness that is inherent in all news of this kind at 826michigan, we wish Billie the best as she starts her student teaching this semester. We know we won’t see her as much, but we also know that she’s going to make an incredible teacher. Thanks for all you’ve done for us, Billie!