Mission :: What We Do :: Why We Do It :: Who We Are
To support youth voices.
We believe in the importance of listening and telling.
We believe in community engagement in schools.
And we believe that sharing stories supports understanding of ourselves and each other.
What We Do
Our high school storytelling workshops bring volunteer storytellers and story coaches into schools to encourage and support student storytellers. The stories that emerge offer opportunities for learning and connection: for peers, for community members, and for the individuals who tell them.
Why We Do It
Story Works Alaska seeks to capture some of the growing energy around storytelling in our community and share it with the students in our schools.
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.
Who We Are
Story Works Alaska is sustained by the efforts of dedicated teachers, students, and the volunteers who work with them. Our volunteers include journalists, scientists, non-profit professionals, medical professionals, retired teachers, lawyers, writers, members of the military, professional storytellers, and two mathematicians –among others. To learn more about some of the individuals involved, please read on.
Since Story Works began (way back in February 2014), over 1,000 Anchorage-area students from Polaris, West, East, Service, Bartlett, Steller, and Dimond High Schools have participated in our workshops. These students have shared their stories with volunteers, teachers, and each other. They’ve told them in classrooms, in hallways, in stairwells, and on school stages. A handful have also told their stories at Arctic Entries events –in front of an audience of 700 people– and with the Storyteller’s Guild at the Anchorage Museum.
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. And students on the Story Works Student Advisory Team spent this spring planning (and hosting) our first ever multi-school show! Thanks to all of them for their work making this event a reality!
Want to hear some of their stories? Listen here.
Founders, Volunteers, and Partners
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.
Regan Brooks (co-founder and project director) is a former public school science teacher who loves Newton’s laws, stories, birds, her family, and living in Anchorage. Regan earned her BA from Cornell University and her MS from the University of Vermont. She heartily encourages you to check out Vik’s new public radio series, New Arrivals.
Rachel Kittoe (co-founder and teacher) has been teaching English at West High School since 2009. She writes: “One of the reasons I enjoy bringing Story Works to my students is that it enhances our classroom community and builds morale. It also really 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 Tinker (co-founder and teacher) spends her days at West High School fostering a habitat for the endangered species of the teenage mind. Temperance attended her first Arctic Entries show four years ago after weeks of listening to her roommate, Diana, practice telling an Arctic Entries story at home. Ever since, she has been hooked. She is excited to be involved in bringing storytelling into the high school English Language Arts classroom.
Rosey Robards (story coach and workshop facilitator) is the director at Alaska Teen Media Institute. She is also a member of the storyboard for the Arctic Entries storytelling event and host of the Arctic Entries Radio Hour. She graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a degree in Journalism and Public Communications (May 2005). Storytelling has always been one of her favorite things to do and she finds it really rewarding to help others improve their stories as well. Bring on the stories!
Robert Stormo (story coach and workshop facilitator) is the assistant director at Alaska Teen Media Institute and told a story at the first ever Arctic Entries storytelling event! He graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2007 with a degree in Journalism and Public Communications. After graduation he transitioned from college radio to a broadcasting company in Anchorage. He now enjoys working with youth to get their stories on air by facilitating the production of the youth-produced radio show “In Other News” on KNBA 90.3 FM.
Jason Slemons (storyteller and story coach) was born and raised in Alaska. His life’s story, of which he strives to be the hero, includes a deep and abiding love of his family, mathematics, snow, skiing, and soccer. In a continual effort to give back even a small fraction of what he has gotten out of the last 35 years of life, he volunteers for Story Works. It turns out that listening to others tell their stories is as satisfying as making sense of his own.
*Listen to Jason’s story here: Jason Slemons: Excuse me, you look like you have cerebral palsy. (Recorded at Arctic Entries, October 9, 2012).
Lila Hobbs (story coach and social media maven) is an associate at Agnew::Beck Consulting and has a background in politics. She graduated from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland with a degree in International Relations. Lila’s love for learning about people and hearing their stories has led her around the world. She believes that everyone has a unique story and should have the opportunity to be heard. In her spare time, Lila can be found teaching yoga at a local substance abuse recovery program and summiting pristine mountain peaks.
Marc Spooner (story coach and tube guru) is an attorney, programmer, and literature freak who loves This-American-Life-style oral prose and hanging out with people who have interesting things to talk about. He is excited that he’s been able to help Story Works kids grind their storytelling chops, and he’s glad that this marathon coding session (the result of which is the AKSW version 2.0 you see before you) is going to streamline the volunteer application and signup debacle, if only a little bit. And pretties all around.
Tara Young (story coach) Over the past fifteen years, Tara Young has produced and edited arts and culture programming for a wealth of companies including Sundance Channel, The Criterion Collection, Vice Media, and Etsy. She is currently a video journalist at Alaska Dispatch News. Young’s interest in storytelling and documentary has led her to notable and quirky places and people around the world –a woodworker in rural Missouri, a Mexican family band in the Rio Grande Valley, and an abandoned textile mill town in Lancashire, UK. Her stories seek to get to the heart – of the story, the character, and what it means to be human.
Plus… another 60+ volunteers and 10+ teachers –all of whom have contributed countless hours towards supporting students and their stories.
You can can keep in touch with the Story Works Alaska team in a number of ways…
through our newsletter,
or using this handy contact form.
Partner Organizations and Supporters
Story Works Alaska collaborates closely with the wonderful team at the Alaska Teen Media Institute and owes a deep debt to Arctic Entries and their dedicated Story Board. Further support and inspiration is provided by the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Atwood Foundation, as well as volunteers, partner teachers, and the many students who have shared stories and feedback with us.
If you are interested in becoming a supporter too, we’d love that! You can use the button below to donate any amount you choose. All donations will be used to support our growing programs.
Please note that donations are processed through our fiscal sponsor, Content Producers Guild (501(c)(3), tax ID: 27-2591916), and are tax deductible.