Can’t you just hear the sweeping, melodic rhythms of Pomp and Circumstance ringing out in the spring air? What a time of reflection, achievement, and completion. With graduations looming and graduates dashing around to finish credits and find gowns, it’s a bittersweet time at 826michigan–this is when we reflect on all our wonderful interns and wish them well as they sail onward and upward. Even Dr. Blotch sheds a tear of two when it comes time for our interns to close out this chapter. This time, instead of just rusting our robots with the seas of tears as we reflect on their parting, we’re going to remember all of the good times and honor the entire Intern Cohort as our May Volunteer of the Month honorees.
First up, we have the fantastic Meg Berkobien, a PhD student in the English department at the University of Michigan, who joined us as the 826michigan In-residence Intern in September 2017. Meg has been instrumental in developing our 826michigan In-residence Program/writing room at Estabrook Elementary in Ypsilanti. As the 826michigan In-residence Intern, Meg has planned and led student editorial boards focused on the big-picture question of “What does it mean to be an editor?” Students at Estabrook light up with excitement when they see Meg walk by, and they love Meg for her warmth, her genuine encouragement, and her Spanish-speaking superpowers. Currently, Meg is using her passion for translation and publishing to develop a new in-school project for English Language Learners focused on the power of translation choices and multilingualism, and secured external funding to support the project’s final published product. Meg does this all and makes it look so easy.
Next, hailing from Miami, Florida, we have the phenomenal Rebecca Fortes. A Zell Fellow through the University of Michigan MFA program, Rebecca began as the 826michigan Editorial Intern in the Fall of 2017. As Editorial Intern, Rebecca has helped with all stages of our publication program. She also holds the INCREDIBLE distinction of being the only person in the history of the world (with the possible exception of Program Director Amy Sumerton) to have read EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. of student writing in all nine editions of our annual anthology the 826michigan OMNIBUS. Rebecca also holds the world record in email-response time, has impeccable style, and is the definition of calm-cool-collected no matter how many mountains of student writing we ask her to type and edit. We love having thoughtful discussions with Rebecca about improving our goals of honoring and amplifying our students’ voices, her work pursuing social justice on campus, her writing (be on the lookout y’all for a novel weaving in Cuban and American history—it’s going to be breathtaking), being a female writer of color, and, well, really everything.
Of course, where would we be without Regan Detwiler? The amazing Regan is a writer and an artist, and a very recent graduate of the University of Michigan. As the Monday/Thursday Liberty Street Tutoring Intern, Regan has helped our students and tutors think about composition in new ways: can writing include sketching, researching, collage, Google slides, audio recording, video, and photography? Yes, it can! This semester, Regan researched and experimented with multimodal writing exercises and designed innovative creative projects for our students on Liberty Street, helping students and tutors to write about our interest journal topics (memes and ice cream!), our cities, and to contribute new work to our end-of-year zine. In addition to her dedication to helping students one-on-one to work on meaningful projects during tutoring time, Regan is also helping to broaden our volunteer training materials, soliciting tutor input and preparing materials to help tutors learn about local schools that partner with 826michigan. Regan’s passion for working with young people is clear through all of her interactions with students–curious, thoughtful, kind, creative, and funny, Regan helps students to feel appreciated through her questions and excitement to collaborate.
And it isn’t a party unless Kim Hawkins is there. Fearless Kim travels more than an hour each way from White Lake to help steer the Liberty Street Tutoring ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Kim is extremely organized and uses this superpower to document the feedback we get from tutors and students through our end-of-day exit tickets and respond to that feedback each week with new ideas for programming. Kim has helped students and tutors in countless ways, including doing extensive research into a repository of academic resources for tutors learning or reviewing a new subject area. Kim inspires students by modeling composition during writing time, creating complex and fascinating story starters, and by helping to guide and plan our interest journal and zine making projects. She also knows a thing or two about Renaissance fairs. In addition to her behind-the-scenes work, Kim has created seven incredible new decorations in the LST lab representing each of the 826 chapters around the country. Kim can also usually be found in the lab on Wednesday mornings as an instrumental member of our field trips team. Kim’s attention to detail and dedication to students shine through no matter what aspect of LST she’s helping with — we’re so fortunate to have her leadership this winter and spring.
Washington Street Tutoring Intern Elizabeth Homan is just super. Before interning with us she was a regular and dedicated volunteer. Known for soccer skills, her math genius, and her ability to somehow get stuck in dance-offs, WST is always brighter when Beth is around! Beth was the lead in coding student data, taking care of recording student attendance, and leading writing breaks. She was an integral part in strengthening the WST family and nurturing a space where all students feel welcomed and empowered.
The absolutely fabulous Leigh Morrison just completed her Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Education. In the winter semester, Leigh helped 826michigan as Program Evaluation intern, building capacity for program data collection and organization. While it may sound like a simple project, tracking down attendance and survey information is an epic undertaking, requiring unflappable patience, creativity, cunning, problem-solving, and a sense of humor — all of which Leigh brought to program statistics tabulation each and every day. Leigh also jumped into programs, helping with tutoring, drop-in writing, and field trips, and continues to provide support to the staff as we work to revise programs and trainings over the summer. It feels really good to have worked with Leigh — and we are proud of her!
Atti Solomon is a field trip force of nature! This dynamo studies social work at Eastern Michigan University and is a former field trip volunteer who came on as Field Trips intern in Washtenaw County in January. Atti’s passion for field trips is only matched (and even outweighs) Dr. Blotch’s disdain for the program. Each Wednesday and Friday morning, Atti arrives early to prepare and welcome volunteers throughout the sessions. Atti communicates regularly with field trip volunteers via email, sending weekly updates (and informative animal facts!) and 826michigan news. They also staff the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair regularly on Fridays, usually while managing multiple program prep projects (binding books! Copy-editing screenplays! Typing student stories!). You’ll catch Atti everywhere during field trips — leading the session, helping students one-on-one, or typing the story while Dr. Blotch carries on and on. Atti’s spirit and dedication to creativity and to advocating for youth voice has a significant impact on our programs: they help everyone feel welcomed and heard at 826michigan.
In-school Intern all-star Caylan Stevens now holds a Masters in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Michigan School of Education. Over the past semester Caylan has joined the 826michigan team and taken in-school projects by storm. As the co-facilitator of Erickson Writers Club for the Winter and Spring sessions and a hardcore YABP fan, Caylan gives her all. She has jumped right in with programming by being an outstanding volunteer — running from early morning Writers Club to YABP sessions. Caylan’s support of the in-school program extends beyond her wonderful direct work with students. She has demonstrated her swift typing and handwriting deciphering skills by typing up Writers Club stories in record time. During Writers Club session you can find Caylan sitting at tables engaging four students two different conversations at once, while trying to edit another one on the side. Or you can find her in deep conversation with a volunteer or staff member–she has a natural rapport and warmth that makes her feel like an old friend right away. Caylan has accomplished such an incredible amount in her first 22 years—we can’t wait to see all the amazing accomplishments to come.
Hats off to these amazing interns, all of whom stepped up to the challenge of helping turn the gears of 826michigan.