Congrats to our August volunteer of the month, Joey Oakley! Joey was a Tuesday volunteer at Akili Aftercare last year, and continually shared his own passion for writing with students. Read our interview with Joey:
What first brought you to Big Class?
My friend Kurston mentioned Big Class to me, just when I was looking for a way to participate more in my community. The mission of Big Class made so much sense that it was automatic!
What keeps you coming back?
The kids themselves. Literally. They clamor for your help. You become pals. To see them so excited about something so academic, such a passport--how could you not?
What are some skills you have that help you out at Big Class?
Not so much anything literary, as much as embracing your role as simply a nudger of the kids as their own conduit. Example: Kid has nothing today. 'What were you just thinking about?' --Oh, just The Mermaid Vampire Who Electrocutes Sharks on a Planet that is half cotton candy half unicorns…
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Big Class?
Rather than biggest challenge I'll say biggest thing you can enable (re: above)--just help them get their own stuff out. Sound it out. Spell it out. Tap the paper and go, My god! That sounds important (that, for example, the dragon has fiery purple metallic scales)! We better know that, right? That's honestly all you need to do. The kids are an endless font of creativity. You just prod them.
What are some great projects you’ve helped with? Tell us the story behind one of them if you can.
There was a collaboration two students were working on that resembled a cross between Pokemon and Harry Potter. It was incredible. It flowed, it had suspense, style... I couldn't believe how old these students were (fifth grade). And, well--as above, I didn't facilitate anything other than asking them to clarify details, what came next, etc--they already knew it all.
What are you up to when you’re not volunteering with us?
I’m currently finishing editing a novel.