Congrats to Kesha, our May Volunteer of the Month! Read our interview with Kesha here:
What first brought you to Big Class?
I first heard about Big Class from a community board notice looking for volunteers to write with children. As I was already tutoring in the neighborhood, I was initially interested in the Open Studio. Once I heard about the scope of Big Class, it was a creative endeavor to teach my own workshops, as well as to become involved in the Volunteer Leadership Krewe.
What keeps you coming back?
Big Class allows children to explore their own voices and to value them. By writing about their identities, experiences, cultures and imagination, their individuality emerges. They can then bring those authentic voices back into their classrooms and communities.
What are some skills you have that help you out at Big Class?
Facilitating writing workshops with the New York Writers Coalition for 9 years was a learning experience. Writing with all different ages and groups of people, valuing their voices, and publishing their work was a privilege, and a lot of that experience serves me well in my Big Classes.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Big Class?
As even the simplest writing prompts can elicit powerful writing around social justice, politics or culture, I have found that I can always be surprised by the depth of ideas. Being prepared to positively engage, encourage, and consistently ask children to write more is a key strategy.
What are some great projects you’ve helped with? Tell us the story behind them if you can.
I love being able to use photography and art along with writing to create exciting projects. In our Water Writers class at Sylvanie Williams College Prep, 5th and 6th graders examined water from the Mississippi River and wrote about their experiences with it, positively and negatively. They also imagined New Orleans in the future and painted those visions with watercolors and water from the Mississippi.
What are you up to when you’re not volunteering with us?
When I am not in the Writers Room, I am hosting international writers, artists, musicians and researchers and exposing them to cultural experiences here in the city. I also enjoy sharing successful poems and books from Big Class writers with them so the word can spread around the world!