Current Volunteer Opportunities

January – February 2017 Volunteer Opportunities

No experience or training is necessary to work with students as a writing, research or art coach or field trip supervisor.

To sign up for one or more of the opportunities below, email the program code(s) and date/time(s) to volunteer@behindthebook.org. Once you’ve been confirmed, you’re all set. The program coordinator will follow up a few days before the date with details about the curriculum, your role in the classroom, and any other information you’ll need. If you must cancel, please let us know as soon in advance as possible so we can find a replacement.

Volunteer spots can fill quickly, so check this page regularly for updates. We also announce new program dates through Twitter and Facebook.

If you haven’t volunteered before, please complete the brief form to join our team and receive emailed updates of new opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.


Program 2414DRR (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time: Friday, January 20th  •  9:00 – 10:30 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Based on Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport, which details different perspectives on the Statue of Liberty, fourth-graders will reflect on their own families’ journeys to the US. They’ll study the statue’s history and symbolism, take a field trip to visit the landmark, and, with the help of coaches, write about their family origins and the obstacles they overcame as new arrivals to the country. For their art project, students will create a sculptural torch representing each of those journeys. Program Coordinator: Jo Umans

Program DEPK1219 (Washington Heights) 

Date & Time: Friday, January 20th • 9:30 – 10:30 AM FILLED
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Third-grade students read Drumbeat in Our Feet by Patricia Keeler to learn about African dance, instruments, and traditions. The author will highlight the geography and cultural elements of different African countries and regions. Guided by research and writing coaches, students will write an informative paragraph on one of those countries, including basic information and fun facts they’ve discovered. They’ll also create artwork to accompany their writing. Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program DLMA0109 (Downtown Manhattan) 

Date & Time: Friday, January 20th • 12:18 – 1:20 PM FILLED
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: This ninth-grade class read Marc Aronson’s Sugar Changed the World to learn the interesting history of sugar, commonly found in kitchens around the world. Using the book as an example, students will be supported by coaches as they research a product and trace its history. Writing coaches will help them polish their drafts. Students will also collect images to serve as material for a collage. Their project will culminate in a class book featuring students’ work. Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program 46SA0130 (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

Date & Time 1: Monday, January 30th • 9:50 – 11:15 AM
Volunteer Role: Research Coach

Date & Time 2: Tuesday, February 28th • 12:30 – 2:00 PM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Fifth-graders read The Case for Loving by Selina Alko, the story of a historic Supreme Court civil rights case that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Students will research and report on another important Supreme Court case. They’ll be assisted by research coaches as they gather facts from provided resources. Writing coaches will guide students in editing their drafts to reach the final version. Program Coordinator: Myra Hernandez

Program 46ZE0131 (Fort Greene, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time 1: Tuesday, January 31st • 12:30 – 2:00 PM
Volunteer Role: Research Coach

Date & Time 2: Monday, February 13th • 9:40 – 11:15 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: This fifth-grade class read Bird by Zetta Elliott, about a young boy who uses his drawing talents to cope with the difficult reality of his older brother’s addiction. Inspired by the story, students will learn about great Americans who overcame challenges, then identify a talent of their own that they can rely on when times get tough. Research coaches will assist them in researching an important historic figure. Writing coaches will help students edit and polish their final drafts. Program Coordinator: Myra Hernandez

Program 125GC0118 (Harlem)

Date & Time 1: Wednesday, February 1st • 8:50 – 10:30 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Date & Time 2: Wednesday, February 8th • 8:50 – 10:30 AM FILLED
Volunteer Role: Art Coach

Overview: Students in this fifth-grade class are studying the Amazon rainforest with Ginjer Clarke’s What’s Up In The Amazon Rainforest. To research and write about an animal or bird that lives there, they’ll visit the Central Park Zoo rainforest exhibit. Research coaches will help students find facts about their animals using the book and their field trip notes. Writing coaches will guide them in taking their first draft of writing to the next level. With the support of art coaches, students will create a mural of the rainforest that includes their drawings of their animals. Program Coordinator: Jo Umans

Program 985GC-M (Inwood) NEW!

Date & Time: Thursday, February 2nd • 8:45 – 10:15 AM AND 10:15 – 11:45 am (please choose  one or both time slots)
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: Fifth-graders in two back-to back classes read What’s Up in the Amazon Rainforest by Ginjer Clarke as an introduction to the region’s indigenous animals. With a focus on endangered species, they‘ll describe one animal, report how it has adapted to its environment, and tell a story about it. Their artwork will represent how their animal could adapt to a new environment. As part of their research, students will visit the Tropical Zone at the Central Park Zoo, which features animals of the rainforest. Program Coordinator: Bureen Ruffin

Program EADV0208 (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn) 

Date & Time: Wednesday, February 8th • 9:00  – 10:30 AM
Volunteer Role: Writing Coach

Overview: To study the foster care system, sixth-graders read Danette Vigilante’s Saving Baby Doe, the story of a boy who finds an abandoned infant and tries to care for her. Students will reflect on how that situation would affect their own lives, then explore a variety of options to suggest how to care for children who lose their primary caregivers. Writing coaches will guide them as they edit their drafts. Program Coordinator: Briana Harris

Program CIMA0215 (Bronx) 

Date & Time: Thursday, February 16th •  8:24 – 9:10 AM
Volunteer Role: Research/Writing Coach

Overview: This 10th-grade class read Marc Aronson’s Sugar Changed the World to learn the interesting world and cultural history of sugar, commonly found in kitchens around the world. The author will lead two classroom workshops tracing the history of sugar from its use in religious ceremonies to its role in the slave trade. With the support of coaches, students will embark on their own research project. Program Coordinator: Chris Fleming