Congratulations, Spy! How does it feel?
Oh là là! This is quite unexpected; I am humbled and honored!
How did you first get involved at 826CHI?
I was first introduced to 826CHI during a casual stroll through the neighborhood and a stop into the Secret Agent Supply Company. Upon learning about the grander secret mission of the organization, I was captivated. As someone that likes to be involved in multiple missions, I made it my new year's resolution (last year) to put more of myself in things that I want to do rather than in missions that felt like obligations.
What has been your favorite 826 experience so far?
"Secret" snowflake festive decorating this past winter was a fun way to bring joy into 826CHI; it also helped fuel a great goal to promote and sell many 826 publications in the Secret Agent Supply Company! Otherwise, my greatest experience has been being a double agent that shamelessly promotes 826CHI and related events to colleagues, which resulted in around 130 students at my school growing their own authorship on an 826CHI field trip!
What do you do when you aren't working undercover?
I am a teacher (Academic Interventionist) that works with lower elementary students in Gage Park on literacy, language, and other foundational learning skills. At school, I'm often involved in leading or helping with various after school programs and events. Outside of "work," I like to adventure - culinary, travel, and sailing.
What was your most interesting adventure?
Wow! This is a tough one! In narrowing it down to a Chicago adventure, I'd have to say journeying down the Chicago River in spring or fall with its bridge lifts. I've been a co-captain to a sailboat for the past five years; taking the "river run" is a unique way to experience and see Chicago and Lake Michigan. Sometimes it is bright, warm and casual cruising, and others drag with stalled mechanics or poor weather. This past fall took two attempts due to heavy rain, river flooding, and the State St. bridge circuit board shorting out and not allowing the bridge to go up - all the boats that trip had to go back out to Lake Michigan with rougher waves. Overall, it's remarkable to witness on the water or from the river front.
The "Secret" snowflakes were amazing! Do you like to craft other things?
For the most part, I don't traditionally craft. Rather, I let the creative juices flow in less planned activities, often in projects or displays for my elementary school.
Our top agents always have the best codenames. What’s yours?
It'd probably be "On the Brink," which was the name of my first sailboat.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring spies of the month?
Check out (and help out) at various events with 826CHI. It's a wonderful way meet other volunteers, students, and alongside the community - join a workshop, stop by a release party, share some 826CHI love at Printer's Row Lit Fest, engage in conversation at a Cafecito.
Our 826 Day event on the roof of Ace Hotel Chicago was a beautiful celebration of our community from our donors to our students and everyone in between (pictured above is 826CHI supporter TASHA’s performance). Our book P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust was available in the hotel’s suites, Ace Hotel Chicago has hosted our annual love-themed print show featuring work by local artists inspired by our students writing on love, and their Senior Sales Manager, Tenasha Wilcoxon, spoke to our students in After-School Tutoring & Writing’s Speakers & Snacks series about what it’s like to work at a hotel.
The partnership between East Village Youth Program and 826CHI is a yearly collaboration to help students achieve their goal of being accepted into their college of choice and for many to be the first in their family to attend college. This fall, 826CHI staff and 12 volunteers worked with 13 high school seniors on their personal statements for college applications. The partnership continues in the Spring when 826CHI and volunteers will return to EVYP to support students as they apply for scholarships.