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ThursdayMarch 2012

John Klein Wilson and Katie Barcy!

John Klein Wilson and Katie Barcy!

You may have noticed something kind of…funny…in this picture.

It’s an Astronaut Farmer and/or a Mustachioed Robot!

What could be more funny than that? (Not our jokes, that’s for sure.)

There is absolutely nothing funny about our love for John Wilson and Katie Barcy (other than John and Katie themselves who are, as people, quite funny). Each member of this Volunteer of the Month Power Couple brings a lot–a LOT–to the 826michigan table.

Let’s do this alphabetically. John Wilson is a store and field trip volunteer who has also stepped up to the plate to design posters and flyers for us. (Such as this recent WPA-style volunteer recruitment poster!) As a trusty Illustrator for our field trips, John brings to life every weird character and scenario second-grade students can dream up. (As anyone who has spent time around a second grader can attest, they are capable of dreaming up some weird characters and scenarios.) And John does not only bring them to life! He also imbues each illustration with energy, wit, and verve, producing the kind of drawing that gives you more to chuckle at each time you look at it.

Here’s what those who have worked with him have to say about John:

Executive Director Amanda: John is one of those few multi-talented and utterly versatile people and very giving people who make the ideal 826 volunteer. Can he cheerfully and intelligently greet the public in the robot store and offer helpful advice on robot purchases? Yes, indeed. Can you rely on him to illustrate, on-the-spot, a lovely set of drawings for a second-grade field trip? Of course! Can he jump in an tutor, or facilitate a workshop when needed? Yes he can! He does most of these things weekly, with great energy and often wearing an 826 Valencia hoodie, endearing us to him even more. We love John!

Fellow Field Trip Volunteer Kati Shanks: Every time John illustrates for a field trip, at least one of the characters (often the villain) ends up looking more than a little bit like John Klein Wilson. We always talk about how awesome volunteers take on all sorts of roles, but I’m pretty sure John is the first to be both an Evil Elephant Magician and an Astronaut Farmer, among other things.

Interim Program Director Frances: Have you ever tried to draw a farmer who lives on the moon and has robot farm animals, including a robot dog named Rhodie? Probably not, because this is really hard to draw (and, perhaps, the occasion does not arise that often). But you know who has? John Klein Wilson. He even thought to put a piece of hay in Farmer Jeddy’s mouth inside his shuttle cap. He also realized that a mystery-solving robot named Jacques clearly needs a beret, a mustache, and a classy bow tie.

If you are skeptical about the ENORMOUS value of this, let me fill you in on something. If it was not for John Klein Wilson’s illustrations for our Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trip, Dr. Blotch, our crotchety editor, would have surely rejected all of our students stories and fired every single one of us. AND the enthusiasm and excitement our students experience writing and publishing their own stories would be down at least 32 notches. John Klein Wilson, thank you for inspiring creativity and an excitement for writing in our students week after week!

Let’s move on to Katie, who has put in hours of dedicated service as a tutor. Katie is reliable, friendly, and has a wonderful rapport with each student she works with. But don’t take my word for it!

Communications Coordinator Amy W: I have known Katie B since we were in French class together our freshman year at the Residential College! Imagine my surprise and delight when I re-met her at this year’s Five Bowls of Oatmeal afterparty and learned she was a regular tutor. Given the RC connection I am pretty much contractually obligated to like her, which is good because I do. Katie is not only a wonderful tutor but a charming conversationalist–AND her presence contributed mightily to the very first meeting of the 826michigan volunteer book club last month! She is an all-arounder and a star volunteer!

A Fellow Tutor Who Wishes To Remain Anonymous:
I am endlessly in awe of Katie’s deep knowledge and her gentle, sweet ability to use the Socratic method in a way that infuses each student with knowledge like tea leaves in water. I have rarely heard what she or her student is saying, but the body language shows the flow.

And then there’s Tutoring Intern And Field Trip Crew Member Alyssa, who has had the opportunity to work extensively with BOTH John and Katie (lucky lady!):


JOHN KLEIN WILSON AND KATIE BARCY?! Did VotM just reach new levels of awesome? As in double the awesome as usual? Or maybe triple the awesome, counting John’s ‘stache? I’d be hard pressed to find another month with quite as much awesome.

Why are these two so awesome? Excellent question, my friends. While legally, morally, and intern-ly I feel obligated to say that I love all 826programs the same amount, that is a LIE. Field trips and tutoring are the clear winners in my heart, and that is partly thanks to John and Katie!

Fact: John is so crucial to the field trip process that if he misses even one field trip, the entire field trip crew goes through the five stages of grief.

Denial: John’s not coming? Fine. We don’t need an extraordinary artist to bring this story to life with lightening fast cartoonistry.

Anger: WAIT,WHAT?! John’s really not coming?! WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?

Bargaining: Well, what if we Skype with John? Can we fax him the story? What if he only comes for the last 10 minutes? Maybe we could use last weeks pictures and just make the kids write the same story?

Depression: ALACK THE DAY, CANCEL THE FIELD TRIP. WITHOUT ILLUSTRATIONS, WHO ARE WE?

Acceptance: It’s going to be okay, we might as well prepare. As long as we’ll see him next week.

Another FACT: If you need help with your homework, Katie Barcy (aka Homework NinjaTutor) can help you. She rejoined the majestic ranks of tutoring this year after international adventures, AND WE ARE SO GLAD SHE’S BACK. Katie has superhuman stealthy tutoring skillz that can trick any student into finishing a homework assignment AND actually understand it. This is a extraordinary feat. She’s so stealthy at getting homework done, I’m not even sure if SHE knows how much learning is happening.

Katie has mastered all the basic skills and techniques: Socratic method, waiting patiently during lengthy problems, having a cute haircut, remaining calm in a homework crisis, tolerating the weird things and bad jokes, excellent listening, and did I mention she is the MOST patient person OF. ALL. TIME.

Not only is Katie a Homework NinjaTutor, she is also just a wonderful person to be around. Beloved by students and fellow tutors, she is megasmart, sweet, (PATIENT. LIKE REALLY PATIENT) and caring. She is also VotM. What more could you possibly want from a tutor? Nothing. NOTHING. (Katie, will you help me with my homework? xoxoAlyssa)

I am so happy to see these two bestowed with this prestigious honor and know that they will reign with stealth, hilarity and excessive coolness this March. They are, as they say, the best. But like… doubly awesome.

There you have it, folks. DOUBLE AWESOME.

Dear Katie and John, thank you SO much for all you do! 826michigan is a better-illustrated, wittier, friendlier, and more gently-infused place with you two around.

Liberty Street Robot
Supply & Repair
115 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3463
Detroit Robot Factory
1351 Winder
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 818-0255