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Amy Sumerton


In-School Residency Program

115 E Liberty St
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
826michigan In-school Residency Program Director Amy Sumerton wants all kids to see their value as individuals and as members of their community. Through the small group and one-on-one writing program that she oversees in Ypsilanti schools, kids are encouraged to find their unique voice through writing. 
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
826michigan Program Director Amy Sumerton: Leadership implies a team. Being a leader means sussing out your team’s strengths and playing to them, knowing when to challenge or push someone and when to let it go. As a leader, I hope I do more than my share of the dirty work without calling attention to it. I hope that I offer useful advice and support. I hope I give loads more credit than I ever take. I think a good leader admits when they’ve let the team down, even in small ways, and apologizes. And I always try to infuse everything with humor and fun. Any task is easier if you do it with laughter.
What is your dream for kids?
For them to see their value as individuals and their special role in whatever community they are born into. I hope for
The number of requests we have for in-class support now greatly outweighs what we are able to provide.
improved confidence in all the students we serve.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
 Here’s a case where the most obvious answer is the most true: more funding. Even for a volunteer-driven organization such as ours, money is always an issue. It affects the scope in which we’re able to do our work, which seems to become more important to me every year. Now that we know the effect that a program like our In-school Residencies can have in a school, we want to get into every school we can.
How do you know you’re making progress?
Longevity. When we started our In-school Residency Program five years ago, we were working in Erickson, Adams, and Chappelle, three elementary schools in Ypsilanti. We have been in Erickson and Adams since, and though Chappelle closed a few years ago, we continue to work with two of the teachers we started with there, who are now at Perry. Most of the teachers we are currently working with we’ve worked with for at least three years. The partnerships get stronger every year, and it’s a huge benefit to our volunteers to be able to explain in detail what a particular teacher wants help with before they go in.
...everyone is someone’s kid. Working with young people, it helps me to always be mindful of that, and to treat everyone’s kid as I’d like others to treat mine, a variation on the Golden Rule.
The number of requests we have for in-class support now greatly outweighs what we are able to provide. Five years ago, we were meeting with teachers and principals and asking them to invite us into their classrooms on faith. Now, new teachers contact me all the time asking for assistance.
What are you most proud of?
It sounds simple, but it’s true: I’m most proud that 826michigan is still standing. Our inception and first couple of years were incredibly challenging for a number of reasons, and, even though things have been remarkably easier for us since then, I still marvel that we made it through.
What keeps you awake at night?
Currently, my teething ten-month-old daughter. I’m taking the question literally there, but it works generally too. Being a mother has helped me to understand that everyone wants the best for their kids, and, it may sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: everyone is someone’s kid. Working with young people, it helps me to always be mindful of that, and to treat everyone’s kid as I’d like others to treat mine, a variation on the Golden Rule.
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Program Profile


  • 826michigan
    826michigan is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our belief that ...


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