This summer, Ray Ugaz and I are working with 826michigan. 826michigan is a nonprofit tutoring and writing center that aids students in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti. According to 826michigan’s website, their mission statement is:
“826michigan inspires school-aged students to write with skill and confidence in collaboration with adult volunteers in their communities. [Their] writing and tutoring programs uphold a culture of creativity and imagination and support students in establishing strong habits of mind.”
826michigan strives to bridge the educational gaps that historically marginalized students face. They understand the poor literacy rates in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, promote reading and writing among the students. They also work to make the most comfortable environment between students/volunteers. They hope their volunteers and staff members make good, healthy connections with the students they’re working with. They want to make 826michigan a safe place for all students.
While we have only been doing “odds and ends” work thus far, I do have a bit of insight on what we will be doing the rest of the summer. Starting in July, 826michigan is going to have three different “writers clubs”. This first writers club will be for students from 6 to 9 years of age; they will be focused mostly on feelings and how to include them into writing. The second writers club will be for students from 10 to 14 years of age; they will be focused mostly on building new worlds and creating a land of their choosing. The third group, which will be mine and Ray’s primary focus, was formed through a partnership with Bates School in Detroit. According to our program supervisor, Bates School is a school for the “gifted” students, meaning all students read at a grading level above average. In this writers club, we will be writing a script. We will have to include dialogue, setting, characters, and all that jazz. We will also have dress rehearsals and other performances. The students in this writing club will be in 3rd-5th grade. I am so excited to get started on this project.
Aside from the writers clubs, Ray and I will be participating in WeeBots, which is a story-writing workshop with 5-10 year olds. We will also be making writers kits, which are themed “kits” that help students with their writing.
So far, I have had such a great time working with everyone in this fellowship! I have truly enjoyed meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I love the conversations we have, both in a big group and in break-out rooms. My learning group and I (we are “community organizing”) have thought about attending some community events. For example, there is a poetry slam event in Detroit we are all interested in. We have also looked into Pride events and we want to look into everyone else’s sites. We are hoping to get out into Detroit together at some point!