Congrats to our September volunteer of the month, Julia Lavigne! Julia has been an awesome volunteer over the past two and a half years, working with students one-on-one during in-school projects, being the resident illustrator at a bookmaking field trip, and bringing countless student's stories to life with her art. Thank you for all your hard work, Julia! Read our Q&A with her below:
What first brought you to Big Class?
All thru college I had the opportunity to work in schools as a teaching assistant and tutor. Post grad I found myself freelancing full time but I really missed working with kids. I happened to see a flyer for Big Class and knew immediately that this was for me!
What keeps you coming back?
The people I’ve met (students, teachers, and big classmates) and all the fun projects. I still do illustration work and I find that Big Class gives me so much creative energy! I love creating art with new people, volunteering with Big Class is the perfect outlet for that.
What are some skills you have that help you out at Big Class?
Honesty. I’m not a writer (writing TERRIFIES me) so admitting that to students helps break the ice some, especially when the student is having trouble getting started or they’re shy and don’t want to engage with me. Being an artist also helps! I’m not able to help out in classrooms as much, so my skills as an illustrator come in handy for behind-the-scenes work!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Big Class?
Scheduling! Working full time cuts out all the fabulous in-school and after-school projects. I wish I had more time and energy to volunteer more.
What are some great projects you’ve helped with? Tell us the story behind one of them if you can.
I’m proud of every Big Class project, but I have to say the poetry projects at Sylvanie Williams blew me away. I had a lot of free time that spring so I was in the same classes for Pizza Poetry and Poetry of the Every Day. All the students had so much enthusiasm for their poetry and their time with Big Class. By the end of the month they were all so proud of how well their ideas translated into words and finished poems on paper.
What are you up to when you’re not volunteering with us?
I feel like both of my careers as a preschool teacher and illustrator spill over into my hobbies. I love looking for new books and teaching materials for my classroom, and I draw whenever I can. I’m in an illustration collective called Quick Draw, we illustrate on a monthly theme. I’m also organizing a monthly adult “art club” for Non-Society Hands! When I’m not doing all of those things I enjoy trying new recipes and spending time outside with my husband and dog.
Check out some of the illustrations of student's stories Julia has created: