Congrats to our July Volunteer of the Month, Emma Schain! Emma has been a passionate and dedicated volunteer over the past few years, helping with everything from the Volunteer Leadership Krewe, to in-school projects, to being a Volunteer Captain at Dark and Stormy. We're sad to see Emma go on to new adventures, but are so grateful for her presence the past couple years. Thanks, Emma!
What first brought you to Big Class?
I originally saw a flier for Big Class while attending a writing workshop at the old studio space on St. Claude, but what really drew me in was: 1. a desire to work with young people directly 2. excitement about being part of a community focused on elevating the voices of New Orleans youth.
What keeps you coming back?
I am drawn over and over to the people, young and old(er), who consistently create spaces for kids to write, get published, and have their voices heard. I love the Big Class community, from the fellow volunteers to the staff to the kiddos.
What are some skills you have that help you out at Big Class?
I've been a classroom teacher, so I guess that comes in handy when working with young people, but I actually feel like Big Class has taught me so many skills and made me a better contributor to our schools and organizations around the city.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Big Class?
This isn't really a challenge having to do with my work at Big Class, but I do consistently see and experience the tension between what our schools are under pressure to provide versus what we see external organizations like Big Class bring to students. I hope that Big Class can continue to drive our schools to consider how creative writing and the principles of student-led learning can be central to the classroom experience.
What are some great projects you’ve helped with? Tell us the story behind one of them if you can.
Working on the project at Carver was fulfilling for me in so many ways. I used to work at Carver and I currently support some of the teachers there, and the whole massive building is also just chock-full of friends, former colleagues, and the siblings and cousins of students I used to teach, so walking into that building once a week and then working on writing with kids was really meaningful. I also am so proud of the work our Carver students created; I feel so lucky to have been able to witness and contribute to small parts of that project.
What are you up to when you’re not volunteering with us?
Well this is really bittersweet because I just hit my 4.5 year mark of living in New Orleans, of supporting teachers around the city through Teach For America, of teaching in schools, and of dancing at Dancing Grounds, and now I'm off to graduate school in California to pursue a master's degree in Education. I am so grateful for Big Class and the immense impact it has had on me as an individual, and I am excited to watch from the West Coast as it continues to shine more and more light on the kids of New Orleans and their stories.