Congrats to our October Volunteer of the Month, Josie Scanlan! Read our interview with Josie:
WHAT FIRST BROUGHT YOU TO BIG CLASS?
I love writing, and I wanted to share that love with other people. Learning how to write well is empowering. I also love kids.
WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?
I love when a kid has an idea in his or her head and I can help get that idea onto the page. They think something or feel something, and then they get to read it and know that when other people read it, they will think and feel the same thing. That is tremendously exciting. The entire writing process is exciting for kids. When you throw out preconceptions students have about writing, a whole big world of possibility opens up. The other day I was in a writing group, and we were listen- ing to one student read a story about how tyrannosaurus rexes got their short arms and there was all this funny dialogue in the story, and another student said, “Oh you can make them talk?” And I got so excited to say, “Yes! Yes, you can make your characters talk.” When you lead a young writer through the writing process, it’s almost like you rediscover all the steps yourself and remember why you fell in love with writing.
WHAT ARE SOME SKILLS YOU HAVE THAT HELP YOU OUT AT BIG CLASS?
Listening. And having a good sense of humor.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED AT BIG CLASS?
A lot of students have such incredible and wild ideas. They can spin elaborate tales with tons of detail, but when it comes to actually putting a pencil to paper, they get stuck. The actual writing part is always hard.
WHAT ARE SOME GREAT PIECES OF WRITING YOU’VE HELPED WITH? TELL US THE STORY BEHIND THEM IF YOU CAN.
I helped this student with a story about a dog that was completely over living in France. The dog was tired of fromage and the French language and so the dog decided to move to New Orleans. I don’t want to spoil the entire story, but there was this part where the dog gets to America and smells a McRib and the student described how the dog rose into the air as if in a trance and floated toward the McRib. I always think about that description, how good food can move you. Really though, every story I have worked on with Big Class has been so much fun. I smile every single time I read a new story.
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO WHEN YOU’RE NOT VOLUNTEERING WITH US?
I teach and write in New Orleans and I spend a lot of time with my golden retriever whose nickname is Bad Dog Oppie.