Our staff spotlight this week is Raven Jones. Raven works at the Ginsberg Center as the America Reads and Literacy Programs Manager.
What is your professional background in?
I started my professional journey as an elementary school teacher in 2012 as a Detroit America Corps Member. After working at the school for two years I moved to teach Kindergarten in Columbus, OH for another two years and then decided to have a professional change. I went on to pursue my Masters of Social Work at U-M in 2015 and post graduation have been working at the Ginsberg Center as the American Reads and Literacy Programs Manager. I really like this role because it is a mixture of working to train tutors to work with elementary school students, but also working with teachers and members of the community.
What is your job function at the Ginsberg Center?
My job function at the Ginsberg Center is to recruit, hire, and train undergraduate and graduate students who are interested to work as literacy tutors in the south-east Michigan area. After they are hired and trained we continue to partner with schools, and based on their needs we place the tutors in the elementary schools. The tutors will work as classroom tutors or with students one on one. A lot of work is focused on educational equity and social justice. Right now is a challenging time but we are learning so much about how to work with schools and students in a virtual capacity. I also work with the Readers and Best program where students, faculty, and staff at the University can sign up to be a guest reader in an elementary school classroom on Friday afternoons. The books that are chosen are based on a social justice theme, or based on the national heritage month.
What is one of your favorite projects you have worked on at the Ginsberg Center?
One memorable project was a couple of summers ago we had a few students who participated in a summer bridge program. They would come to the Ginsberg Center once a week for four weeks and learn about social justice issues in Washtenaw County and how to engage with the community. It was cool to work with a small group of students who were just beginning their journey with the University, and later seeing them reach out to the Ginsberg Center to become involved with more projects.
What are your social change interests in your personal life?
I am on the Teach for America Alumni Board and we are focused on getting alumni together to advocate for education equity. There are over 900 alumni in the south-east Michigan area and are involved in different professions but still are involved in education. Being able to connect with other alumni and learn more about what can be done in Michigan at the state and local levels. This summer I was able to participate in a people of color leadership development cohort and the goal was to learn more about running for public offices. I am not running yet but I was able to learn about leadership in the way that local government is run.
What has helped you during the pandemic (object, cooking, food, TV, etc.)
I have been walking around my apartment complex and enjoying going outside by the lake. I feel like I am appreciating spending time outside more than I did before the pandemic. I also spent time reconnecting with friends and being able to participate in things that I would not have time to do if we were not in a pandemic.