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WednesdayJuly 2009
Rachel Feder and Sheera Talpaz

Rachel Feder and Sheera Talpaz!

We could sum up this month’s Volunteers of the Month in two words. (We won’t do that, of course. We’ll most likely get quite wordy. So we’re not saying we would, or will, we’re only saying we COULD. But, don’t worry, we won’t.)

Two Volunteers of the Month (a rare occurrence, but these two come as a set) in two words:

POETRY CLIQUE.

Rachel and Sheera have been teaching
Workshops for us for several years
They continually have been reaching
Almost the same set of peers

Every workshop schedule they offer
A stunning poetic display
Oh no — what rhymes with “offer”?
(If they were here, they would have an array.)

The same students each season
Sign up for their session
For the very same reason:
How this group’s really meshin’

This sonnet would be better for sure
With their help, which is always the cure.

Phew! Listen, we ONLY did that because Rachel and Sheera will probably look past all the obvious flaws and love it, and that’s really what this is all about.

What we are trying to say, albeit ungracefully, is that Rachel and Sheera, who have been teaching poetry workshops for us every semester for quite a while now, have developed the closest thing we have to a clique here at 826. And yes, friends, as we mentioned earlier, it is a Poetry Clique, which is a concept we’re pretty much in love with.

Every semester, Rachel and Sheera teach some fun five-session poetry workshop on everything from sonnets to ekphrastic poetry and beyond, and, generally speaking, the same ten or twelve middle schoolers sign up for it. They come on the first day with presents for Rachel and Sheera — homemade cards, poems, stuffed animals — and excitement for the upcoming sessions. We have, quite literally, watched some of these students truly blossom, and turn from shy pre-teens into confident teens. Friendships have been forged through these workshops, and one semester, we even saw a middle-school crush flair up in all its charming embarrassment (and blushing). These friendships are lasting, poetry-driven, and exactly the sort of thing we hope comes out of our workshops.

Here’s what we like most about Rachel and Sheera: they are SUPER fun. They OOZE fun. Fun trails behind them, it eminates from their skin; they create a Fun Bubble and all the students get to hang out inside of it for an hour or so a week. Surely this sounds like the best part, but the best part is: it’s not. The BEST part is that, in addition to being so fun, so goofy, so creative, these are two women who are wildy, WILDLY intelligent. They are EXACTLY the sort of people we like to have teach our workshops: fun, creative, passionate, and smart.

And the best BEST part: They really, truly love their students, and their students really, truly love them. They inspire one another. It’s a big inspiration and admiration stew they’re all sitting in, and only good things can come of that.

So it is with great sadness that we send Sheera off to Chicago this summer. Sheera, thanks for donating so much of your time and expertise and fun to us. We wish you all the best (and know you will find it) on your new adventure. And Rachel: thank you for continuing to inspire us and our students. Please don’t ever leave us!

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