Hello again! I’m Maya, one of the two LEAGUE VISTA members hosted at Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA). In my last blog post, I was in the middle of my service and working on balancing Read n’ Give, a statewide book drive, with service-learning projects. Read n’ Give was time-consuming, but incredibly rewarding. Since then, things have been much less hectic, but just as gratifying.
Before the school year ended, I spent a lot of time helping teachers complete their last projects. One project of my favorite projects was with the DEPSA Junior Academy Leadership Team. At DEPSA, the Junior Academy (JA) houses grades 6-8. Leadership Team is composed of about 20 of the JA students, who strive to be leaders at DEPSA and in the larger community. In June, the Leadership Team shopped, cooked, and served a meal at a local church soup kitchen. With the challenges of a small kitchen and set budget, the students had to plan a thoughtful menu, utilize comparison shopping skills, and work together to make and serve their fo. The students did an amazing job! They took their work incredibly seriously and the community that they served appreciated their hard work. I feel very lucky to have played a small part in the project by helping to organize the logistics of the trip and serve as a mentor to the students on the trip itself.
Now that the summer is upon us, I have been steadily working on recruiting teachers for Fisher Training. Fisher Training is a three-day service-learning institute for local teachers. There are four different trainings throughout the state this summer. The metro Detroit training will be hosted at DEPSA in August. As part of Fisher Training, teachers receive grant money to implement service-learning projects in their classrooms during the school year. Many of the teachers that we work with during the year have completed Fisher Training. Recruitment is a special opportunity for us to spread our work to additional teachers in current schools and cultivate relationships with new teachers in new schools in metro Detroit. Although I won’t be working much with the teachers that I’m currently recruiting, it is important to me to pass along a great group of teachers to the next VISTAs!
I have also been working on creating a Little Free Library with Erik, my co-VISTA at DEPSA. During Read n’ Give, I connected with Rx for Reading and we donated approximately 1,700 books to the organization. Rx for Reading is an organization that collects books and distributes them throughout Detroit in clinics, Little Free Libraries, and Head Start classrooms. Mary-Catherine is the director of Rx for Reading and she has been an amazing partner! To help Rx for Reading and the greater community, Erik and I wanted to build a Little Free Library that will be a lasting contribution from the two of us.
With the little help that I can provide, Erik has built an incredible Little Free Library from the ground up. The library will be placed at a free clinic in Corktown. Someone has already agreed to serve as the steward for the library and will fill it up with books whenever needed. Building this library with Erik has been quite an experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself, Erik, and power tools. I wouldn’t have wanted to take this project on with anyone else!
Hi! My name is Maya Faison and I’m a first year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with The LEAGUE Michigan at Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA). As one of The LEAGUE VISTAs serving throughout Michigan, my service centers on service-learning. Service-learning is a methodology that connects service and philanthropy to the classroom curriculum. Service-learning enhances and reinforces the material that students are learning in school. This concurrently increases academic performance and civic engagement.
While my focus is predominately service-learning, my placement consistently keeps me on my toes. In addition to working with teachers at DEPSA, I serve approximately 20 other schools in Detroit, Flat Rock, and Taylor. Each teacher, school, and project requires unique VISTA support. This year, I have assisted teachers with brainstorming ideas, writing grant applications, identifying community partners, scheduling speakers, and organizing the logistics of projects that occur outside the classroom. Assisting multiple teachers at once can get a little hectic, but it is all worth it when I see the projects students have completed. So far this year, I’ve helped teachers and their students with projects that have benefited numerous groups including resettling refugees, deployed military members, local homeless, and youth in Peru, Mali, and Nepal. It’s amazing to think that by assisting teachers with service-learning projects, I’m helping them empower their students to contribute positively to communities locally and internationally.
Lately, I’ve been busy with Read n’ Give, a statewide literacy campaign. During March, which is National Reading Month, The LEAGUE Michigan works with Crowe Horwath to sponsor Read n’ Give. During Read n’Give, schools and businesses collect books to donate to local organizations that support literacy efforts in their community. The hope is that those who receive books this year will donate them back to Read n’ Give next year creating a continuous cycle of literacy.
I’ve been working with my fellow DEPSA VISTA, Erik, to support the collection efforts in metro Detroit. We have provided materials to schools participating in Read n’ Give, picked up book donations from community partners, and identified organizations in Detroit that will receive the collected books. At the end of March, we will distribute the books to selected schools and organizations. I’m excited to see just how many books we can collect and redistribute in metro Detroit!
It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been a VISTA with MNA and The LEAGUE Michigan for seven months already. When I reflect on my time, I see just how much I have accomplished. However, I know that there is still a lot of important work to be done in all of my schools and communities. Even if I can’t accomplish the work by the end of my term in August, I will complete as much as I can and lay the groundwork required for the next VISTA to be successful.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!