If we were to make a graph to plot the points of Lillie’s contributions to 826michigan this summer, those points would be off the charts (ha!). Lillie Schneyer isn’t new to 826michigan — she’s been working with us for years, starting as an elementary school student who participated in workshops and returning to us during the summer of 2015 as a programs intern (where she led some of the very workshops she once participated in**)! This summer Lillie again returned to us in a new role: as a member of our data and evaluations team, Lillie helped us to collect, clean, and clarify our program numbers and to create a vision and concrete plan for data collection in the coming year.
While some folks might balk at the idea of entering survey data into spreadsheet, Lillie was energetic and engaged in the process, noticing trends and outliers, and making notes about how we could improve our survey processes for the future. She also took great joy in sharing out fantastic survey responses (including: What do you like most about the tutors? “They are lit/they understand me!!!”). Among the many statistics that Lillie calculated, she found the total number of students in our programs this year (3,265!) and unique volunteers (517!), and publications (116!); she organized this information so we could easily see cross-program participation by the students and the schools these students attended. She charted our program attendance records over the course of the school year to help us make scheduling decisions for next year and compared our participation numbers between school years. Her work in the sociology department at Carleton College prepared her to help us to see our data in new ways with word clouds and detailed narrative summaries, and she assisted us in program planning sessions throughout the summer. Did we mentioned she also built us new spreadsheets and filing systems for our data collection this year? Whew!
As an evaluator, Lillie pays attention to detail and asks thoughtful, challenging questions. This also makes her a tremendous teacher — she jumped in to support our drop-in writing sessions this summer, too, designing a lesson around letter writing to make change. Lillie also supported our Family Writing Laboratory program all summer long, working directly with students and families at our writing stations and — you guessed it — tracking and organizing our survey data so we can make changes to the program this year based on family feedback.
Lillie, your work this summer helped us to plan for the next year, and it will continue to help us far into the future as we use this data to tell stories about our programs. Thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to our work — we all strongly agree!
**Her workshop on character development and idea generation was an adaptation of an activity she remembered from the early days of 826. In the lesson, she taught students how to find inspiration for characters all around them in a very fun and funny way. To quote her lesson plan directly, “When I was younger, I discovered something magic about googly eyes: if you put one or two googly eyes on anything– and I mean anything– it looks like it could be alive.” By affixing small plastic eyes to everyday objects, Lillie gave students a simple way to both create new characters and to imagine a thousand untold stories – what would the eraser say, if it could, to the black board? The lesson also created a playful environment in our writing lab – one that helped students to feel comfortable taking leaps with their imaginations and their writing.