Photo by one of the kids in the winter break program.
Lucy Xie has been a dedicated Writers’ Room volunteer since the very first week we opened. She often tutors more than once per week, and she spent every day with us over the winter break! She even completed her women’s studies practicum at the Writers’ Room, during which she took on the role of communications intern, compiled and helped design the latest Writers’ Room chapbook, and set her hilarious sarcasm aside to master the super-perky Writers’ Room e-newsletter tone.
Ana, age 11, is not easily impressed, and even she likes Lucy: “I like her because she’s good at math.”
Shirley, age 8, interviewed Lucy.
Shirley: Do you have a cat?
Lucy: No, but my family used to have one when we were in China. I do have a dog right now, though!
Do you like playing?
I love playing all kinds of games! My favorite game is Scrabble.
Are you scared?
I'm usually not scared, but I am scared of a few things, like spiders (yikes!).
Have you had a sun burn?
Luckily, I don't burn very easily in the sun. But I did get a tan recently from wearing shorts in the sun.
Are you allergic to anything?
I'm happy to say that I don't have any allergies, at least none that I know of.
Do you go to school?
I do go to school. I'm a student at the University of British Columbia. It's a really big school with many, many students.
There isn’t a lot of fighting in the Writers’ Room—except for when it comes to Blaine Menon.
Every grade 3, 4 and 5 kid wants to work with Blaine. And, somehow, he manages to make time for all of them, checking in with everyone about their latest test or trip to the aquarium before settling down to help a small group of enthralled tutees. Blaine is patient, kind and jumps at a challenge—he even baked cookies with a large group of girls to demonstrate equivalent fractions! And it doesn’t hurt that the kids think he looks exactly like Brady from Pair of Kings.Here’s what Mico, age 9, had to say about Blaine: “He’s helpful, because he inspires the students and he does lots of fun stuff and he’s funny and he’s an experienced man.”Donna, age 10, was very excited to interview Blaine for this addition of Tutor of the Month.
Donna: How old are you, Blaine?!
Blaine: I’m 19! Though turning a whole two decades this July.
Where are you from, Blaine?!
I’m from Gig Harbor, Washington. I’m in Vancouver because I go to UBC.
Why did you join Writers’ Room, Blaine?!
To work with sweet kids like you, Donna! And to convince everyone I’m Brady from Pair of Kings.
Do you have pets?
Yes, I have the most amazing dog at home. He is a five-year-old golden retriever and my best friend.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
This is sort of complicated. I have two brothers and two sisters, though technically I’m an only child (go figure). I have an older step-brother who teaches math in Indiana, and an older step-sister who works at a retreat center in New York. I also how a younger brother (age 12) and sister (age 11) who are growing up faster than I can believe. I missed them when I went to school, so that's part of the reason I decided to tutor with elementary school kids.
Where were you born?
Nashville, Tennessee, though I grew up most of my life in the Pacific Northwest!
Caroline King worked in advertising before following her true passion: working with kids. She has trained as a Montessori teacher and has been a dedicated Writers’ Room volunteer since before the room even opened—she organized mountains of material onto neatly stacked shelves during the summer renovation. Caroline is now a staple tutor at our Wednesday after-school program.
Here's what Jacky, age 5, had to say about Caroline, “I love her. She draws inside the lines. And she's good at cutting.”
Chelsea, age 8, interviewed Caroline for this edition of Tutor of the Month.
Chelsea: Where are you from?
Caroline: I am from the United States. I grew up in Minnesota, went to university in Ohio, lived in New York City for seven years, then Portland, Oregon, for three, and now I call Vancouver my home.
When is your birthday?
What do you speak?
I speak English and a little bit of Spanish.
How old are you?
I am 35. . . but often I feel as though I’m 24.
Why do you have glasses?
So that I can see better!
Do you like volleyball?
I do like volleyball, however I'm not very good at it. The last time I played on a volleyball team was in junior high.
What sports do you play?
I back-country ski, bike, run, do yoga, hike and rock-climb.
Why do you feel like working here as a tutor?
I work as a tutor with Writers’ Room because I really enjoy spending time with children and helping them learn. It is so inspiring to be around so many creative, excited young minds.
Today, the Eco-Friendly Community Club from Burnett High School dropped by our after-school tutoring program with a donation of three gigantic boxes of kids’ books—and the club members stayed to read with the kids, too!
In the words of Winnie, one of the EFCC's founding members, “Our goal is to touch the souls of society through our sincerest actions. We hope to give back to the community and to connect with the works by starting with the closest people around us—the children, the elders, the friends, and the relatives.” Their generosity certainly touched the Writers’ Room kids today.
How excited were they?
Thank you so much, EFCC! We’ll be reading those books for a long time to come.
The Writers’ Room has been open for a month, and the kids have now settled into routines and the Writers’ Room has become one of the most popular hangouts in school. Our after-school tutoring program is in full swing and we’ve already seen a wide range of awesome homework assignments that show up in the eager hands of our enthusiastic kids. And with all the classic kids’ books on our shelves, our volunteers are getting a big kick out of sharing their childhood favourites, making it a tough call on who’s having more fun—the kids or the tutors!
Of course, it’s not all business in the Writers’ Room—we do have banana-shaped pouches of tiled letters from which all kinds of fun spelling games spring! Oh, and what kid doesn’t love a birthday? In October, the wee ones had an amazing time colouring fantastical, multi-layered birthday cakes and drawing massive bunches of balloons in every colour of the rainbow to celebrate Writers’ Room donor Megan Abbott’s special day
In snack-time news, the popularity of green grapes has jumped out way ahead of red grapes, and carrot sticks are a hot trading commodity, but neither can top the popularity of the Pumpkin-N-Spice granola bars supplied so generously by Nature’s Path. Sharing is at an all-time high with this group, making homework no match for a table full of happy kids fuelled by healthy snacks and supported by fantastic tutors.
Sure, things get a little crazy in the Writers’ Room, as every kid has a story he or she wants to tell, but once those pencils and notebooks come out, the excitement in the room turns into the sweet sounds of furiously scrawling pencils and the occasional giggle from someone who just came up with the perfect title for her latest story.
After our first month, we’re already looking forward to more stories, more snacks, and, of course, more games to come!
It’s spooky how much fun we had in the Writers’ Room this Halloween doing homework, making masks and writing stories. We had some games lined up (including “Monster Mash” musical chairs), but the kids were so into writing that they didn't want to play!
Here are a couple of their spooky tales:
Clara was walking her fish. It turned into a spider! Then Clara got a new pet. It was a werewolf. It turned into a bat! Clara met a cat dressed as a scarecrow.
—Clara, age 5
At Halloween night, Sebastian and his friends Anson, Kaydon, Ali and Michael went trick-or-treating. They had fun. Then suddenly, they saw a scary one. It was Mr. Hangman and he said, “Happy Halloween. Here’s some candy.” They liked those candies and said, “Thanks.” The next house was Lady Gaga’s. She had her own speaker so she put on some of her music, and a fake zombie popped up when you walked beside it. They loved the music, but the zombie scared them. But they went to Lady Gaga and said, “Awesome album,” and off they went to Dr. Seuss’s house. There was a skeleton body on a gurney, and they went in and rang the doorbell and he came and said, “Here’s my famous books, and you have a great Halloween,” and they said, “Thank you for your famous books.”
—Sebastian, age 8
Dan Post joined the Writers' Room tutoring team after a long stint as the web guy at Geist magazine. He's now the managing editor of Color, a skateboarding magazine, but he still makes time to help with after-school tutoring at least one day every week.
In the words of Bogdan, age 9, "He's cool. And also helpful. And really funny. But mostly helpful."
Andrew, age 9, interviewed Dan for this edition of Tutor of the Month.
Andrew: Where are you from?
Dan: St. Thomas, Ontario, and I attended Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.
How old are you?
Twenty-seven years young.
I know you're a skateboarder. I've seen your skateboard. It's very cool. What is your hobby?
Besides skateboarding, I also write short stories, play guitar and read many books.
Do you like reading?
I love reading! My favourite author growing up was Roald Dahl. I love his books BFG, Witches and, of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For me, those books opened up a whole new world of imagination.
Do you like working at Writers' Room?
Volunteering at the Writers' Room is the brightest spot in my week! I wish that a program like this had been available to me when I was young. Sharing my favourite books and hearing so many original stories from the kids reminds me to be creative and always try to learn new things.
What is your favourite sport?
I love hockey. My favourite team is the Toronto Maple Leafs.
What are your favourite seasons?
Well, I love spring because of all the new flowers and the warm sun, but I also love fall and the changing colours of the trees. Ooh, but then there’s winter, and playing in the snow. And who could count out summer? I mean, really, does it get any better than hanging out on the beach?
What is your favourite game?
I love Monopoly and I’m a crack shot in crokinole.
What is the name of your country?
Canada. But if I were to write a story like Roald Dahl, the setting would probably be Snozzeltron.
Thanks for being such a fantastic tutor, Dan! We hope that you don't create and then move to Snozzeltron anytime soon.
Today is the birthday of one of our favourite sponsors, Mrs. Megan Abbott, and the after-school tutoring kids made her an awesome pop-up birthday card! Happy birthday, Mrs. Megan! We hope you're having a fantastic day.If you'd like VIP b-day treatment like this,
mosey on over to our donations
page and consider giving a gift to the Writers' Room.
More than 1,000 organic Nature's Path bars are stuffed into those six boxes!
Yesterday, Kristi, the KidSafe Program Coordinator, and I took a trip to Nature’s Path Foods
to pick up half of the huge amount of organic granola bars that Nature’s Path has generously donated to the Writers’ Room after-school tutoring program and to the KidSafe winter break program.
In total, Nature’s Path donated more than two thousand granola bars, which will feed 450 kids in the fall term alone. With these granola bars, the kids will now be able to concentrate on their homework at after-school tutoring—and not on their growling bellies. During the winter break, this healthy snack will give the kids the energy to participate in the active programming provided by KidSafe, as well as the fun literacy program the Writers’ Room will run.
Thank you so much, Nature’s Path! We can’t wait to see the kids dive into the organic deliciousness you have provided them.