LearningWorks Connects Communities

Volunteers express motivations, benefits of teaching


Spencer Okoronkwo

Students are split up into 6 color groups; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The color groups compete in various year long challenges.

Mackenzie Higgins, Staff Writer

LearningWorks’ mission is “to support motivated students in overcoming barriers on their paths to college through engaging, academically-rigorous, out-of-school programs while inspiring and preparing promising high school and college students, especially those of color, to become the next generation of teachers.” Currently, LearningWorks has graduated over 500 students with 83% of alumni currently enrolled in, or have graduated from college.

During the school year, students at Blake have the opportunity to volunteer for the program on Saturdays and teach a class of their choice to the participating Minneapolis students. Rabi Michael-Crushshon ’22 shares, “I’m really interested in creative writing, so I’ve liked figuring out how to teach that and how to make students like writing.” Additionally, being a part of LearningWorks gives volunteers teaching experience that is helpful if they’re ever interested in pursuing a career in teaching. Michael-Crushshon adds, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to live off of [writing or arts]; both of my parents are teachers, so it seems like something I could go into.”

Spencer Okoronkwo ’22 not only enjoys helping out the greater Minneapolis community, but he also enjoys hearing from people with many different life experiences from his own. He shares, “[The students] are very honest. They’re very happy to be there and open to tell you whatever they’re comfortable with. I get to learn from a whole bunch of perspectives that I wouldn’t hear if I was just talking with people [at Blake]. I really like hearing about those types of stories.”

The LearningWorks community creates a special and inclusive environment that fosters friendship alongside academic success, which is why many people join and volunteer. Anisa Thompson ’22 shares that LearningWorks is “a really close, tight-knit community, where everyone knows each other by name. [The students] are all so positive, so kind, and so caring to one another and to us [teachers].” A typical day at LearningWorks doesn’t just include classes, but also fun games like silent ball, which Gabe Mendoza ’22 often plays with his students.