Mission & Core Beliefs
Story Works supports youth voices through storytelling and writing workshops that develop skills, build resilience, and increase access to opportunity. We believe in the importance of listening, the protective value of connection, and the power of stories to foster wellness for individuals and communities.
What We Do
We currently offer in-person programs for high school students in both Anchorage and Unalakleet, Alaska. We also share our resources for supporting those programs with interested educators and students in other communities.
Our Story Workshops bring volunteer story coaches (professionals from the community and project alums from within the school) into high school English classrooms to encourage and support student storytellers. The stories that emerge offer opportunities for learning and connection between peers and community members.
Our College Essay Workshops offer free, out-of-school support to students developing college admissions essays. Participating students attend workshops on essay development and are matched with volunteers (journalists, writers, editors, former English teachers etc.) who offer support and encouragement during this challenging and high stakes process.
The Story Works Alaska Youth Team (SAYiT) is a group of Story Works participants who meet outside of school time to plan and conduct projects to support youth stories. First launched in January 2015, SAYiT has since:
- hosted two Anchorage-wide events featuring storytellers from multiple high schools,
- led story workshops for elementary-aged students,
- produced a three-part podcast featuring stories about bullying and bullying prevention,
- led a workshop at a national education conference, Deeper Learning 2018, and taught teachers from around the US how to support student voices at their schools.
- They are currently developing a series of videos to support Story Works participants in classrooms beyond Anchorage.
Why We Do It
We were founded to capture some of the growing energy around storytelling in our community and share it with the students in our schools. And we continue to grow in response to the power of the students and their stories.
Our workshops offer students and teachers a chance to receive additional support from trained volunteers while engaging in the timeless art of constructing meaning through stories–their stories. They also offer schools and communities a way to value, support, and listen to student voices.
Where We Are
Currently, we host our Story Workshops in high schools in both Anchorage and Unalakleet, Alaska. However, our Story and College Essay lessons and materials have been used by educators as far away as New York and Texas.
Our physical location is in Bartlett High School (1101 Golden Bear Dr., Anchorage, Alaska).
The Story Works Alaska Youth Team (SAYiT), also meets outside of school time to plan events, produce podcasts, and manage other projects. These meetings are held at our office in the Youth Hub space we share with Spirit of Youth, the Alaska Teen Media Institute (ATMI), and Youth Vote. If you are a high school student interested in joining SAYiT, please message us on Instagram (@storyworksak) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: For a short intro to ATMI and what goes on there, we highly recommend this video.
Who We Are
Story Works Alaska is sustained by the efforts of dedicated teachers, students, and the volunteers who work with them. Among others, our volunteers include journalists, scientists, nonprofit professionals, medical professionals, retired teachers, lawyers, writers, members of the military, professional storytellers, and two mathematicians. To learn more about some of the individuals involved, please read on.
Since Story Works began (way back in February 2014), over 2,000 high school students (and a handful of middle school students) have participated in our workshops. These students include Anchorage-area students from Polaris, West, East, Service, Bartlett, Steller, and Dimond High Schools along with students in grades 8-12 in the community of Unalakleet, Alaska.
Although participants have the choice to opt out (and write an essay or share to a small group), more than 99% choose to share their stories aloud –with volunteers, teachers, and each other. Stories have been shared in classrooms, in hallways, in stairwells, and on school stages. And even beyond school walls, at Arctic Entries events –in front of audiences of up to 1,500 people– and at other community-wide events.
Story Works student storytellers from Anchorage’s West and Dimond High Schools have also been featured on the Alaska Teen Media Institute’s youth radio show, In Other News.
Want to hear some of their stories? Listen here.
Vik Patel (Co-founder and Lecturer) got his early start in story coaching by picking apart his parents’ attempts to punish him. “If you take away my television privileges, you become the bad guy. Inspire me, Mom; don’t make me root against you.” Happily, Vik grew to be less obnoxious as an adult, but still enjoys working with storytellers. A longtime producer and story coach for Anchorage storytelling program Arctic Entries, Vik wrote the first draft of the Story Works curriculum and sheds a tear each and every time we shorten the Storytelling Basics lesson.
Vik is the creator of Alaska Public Media’s New Arrivals series, and currently works in podcasting for Sony Music in Los Angeles, where the most interesting thing about him is that he used to live in Alaska. Vik once again lives with his Mom, who still limits his television time.
Regan Brooks (Co-founder, Board of Directors, and Acting Volunteer Executive Director) was born and raised in New York City and has called Anchorage, Alaska home for eleven years. She first developed her love of storytelling in high school* but took a detour into the sciences for a while because birds, plants and physics are awesome too. A former science teacher, ornithology research assistant, fry-cook, and costume character, Regan holds a BS in Government from Cornell University and an MS in Botany from the University of Vermont. She loves being a mom to her two kids, taking them hiking even when they don’t want to go, and hearing them tell stories about it later. She believes storytelling helps us make sense of what matters most and she’s grateful to all who have collaborated, through storytelling and listening, to make Story Works possible.
*Thank you, Mrs. Frosch and Mme. Krauthammer!
Rachel Kittoe (Co-founder and Partner Teacher) has been teaching English at West High School since 2009. Rachel enjoys bringing Story Works to her students because it enhances the classroom community and builds morale. She also loves how it helps students learn how to think about structure and editing. “The process of crafting a story to tell verbally is very similar to the writing process and, as we work, I can see students learn how to transfer these skills.”
Temperance Tinkerkays (Co-founder and Partner Teacher) spends her days at West High School conserving habitat for the endangered species of the teenage mind. Temperance first hosted Story Works (then The West High Storytelling Project) in her classroom in February 2014. She is excited to be involved in bringing storytelling into the high school English Language Arts classroom.
Plus this project would not be possible without our board, staff, and another 100+ volunteers and 10+ teachers –all of whom have contributed countless hours towards supporting students and their stories.
We also thank our many partner organizations and donors for their relentless support of our mission.