August 2, 2019
July 2, 2019
June 4, 2019
April 30, 2019
What do you do at Learning Ally?
I am a reader and a checker. But over the last 18 months, I have been checking more files than reading. I find that I make more mistakes reading than I want to, but I really enjoy listening to a number of excellent readers who make few if any mistakes.
How long have you volunteered at Learning Ally?
I started with RFB&D, Learning Ally's previous name, in the spring of 2009 after I retired from the maritime and oil industries. I began in the New Haven office, then transitioned to the New York office when the NH office closed. I also had occasion to record in the Upland and DC facilities when visiting my sons living near those facilities. And once Christine and Stacie even allowed me to record one (yes, that's right, one) file in the Athens office! After moving to Florida in 2014, I became part of the virtual community.
What made you want to volunteer at Learning Ally?
Certainly, part of my decision was based on the fact that my dear aunt was almost totally blind, and I wanted to "pay it forward" for her. I also had been doing "voice work" of one kind or another since I was 16, and as I was looking to volunteer somewhere after retirement, it seemed to be a "fit."
What's something most people at Learning Ally don't know about you?
In line with the previous question, I was asked by school mates to announce the music played by the school dance band, but it would be silly of me just doing the announcing. So...I pretended to play the bass during the musical numbers and then before the next musical number announce what we had just done or what was coming up. Duh! I couldn't play a lick! That's me -- the great pretender -- in the accompanying photo.
What do you like most about volunteering at Learning Ally?
A number of things: firstly, the sense that we, the volunteers, are doing something that benefits others. Secondly, working with a tremendous staff, learning from them. Thirdly, "meeting" both physically -- at times -- and virtually, other volunteers and staff. I have been very lucky that way in that I have been able to work at or visit a number of Learning Ally's brick and mortar facilities, attended a Gala dinner in Denver, been to the Princeton office, and meet once a year or so with other volunteers from the Southern California community for lunch or breakfast or whatever. That group has grown from 3 of us to a group of a dozen or more, although with time constraints, travel distances, etc., the group that actually meets is about 6 or 7, but growing.
Do you have any advice for prospective Learning Ally volunteers?
2 things: Learn the reading conventions and don't be afraid to ask questions or challenge decisions. What we do changes with the times as do the conventions.
Actually, there is a third piece of advice: don't take things personally. Edit notes are not personal attacks. They are meant to improve the overall product that we are putting out. Okay, okay, okay! One last piece of advice: thank the staff for what they do! They do a great job!
What is your favorite audiobook/book if you have any?
Books, in general, not audiobooks: I love almost anything Michael Connelly writes but there are so many other authors that I like I could fill the page with them. And I much prefer to hold the book in my hands and physically turn the pages. No Kindle or mp3 player for me.
What do you do during your free time?
Actually, I spend most of my time volunteering, whether it is with earning Ally or other reading services, tutoring at a local elementary school (2nd and 3rd graders mostly, learning to read), calling BINGO once a month, doing other non-profit voice work, etc. I am also the disembodied voice at two maritime conferences in Connecticut telling attendees where to go and what to do next and have for the last few years been the house announcer for the Orange County Children's Theater (California) reminding folks about photography, food, etc. I have also voiced several online courses for two maritime not-for-profit entities, In fact, I average about 150 hours a month of volunteer work -- when not traveling -- doing this type of "work."
When not doing that, my wife and I like to travel. We are lucky to have been able to visit about 100 countries -- for work or pleasure -- between the two of us. I envy some of the places she has been and she would definitely not like several of the places I have been.
What is your Favorite movie or TV series?
In the overall scheme of things, I don't watch "that much" TV but when I do, I binge watch programs like Chicago PD (my home town!), Law and Order SVU, or Bosch (I told you I like Michael Connelly, the writer).
This Weeks Highly Recommended Titles 10/23
We will be highlighting some of the books that our incredible Volunteer Nation has worked on! These are the selections for this week...and keep an eye out for next week's three-book selection for Halloween! This information is collected weekly by Christina Trejos, Digital Production Coordinator at Learning Ally.
Grade Band: K-3
Melia And Jo by Billy Aronson (NC084)
Narrated by: Nikola Zakocs
Book Trailer: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pXy0RwFYS61u034fyTT-HZ0X23MWjGil
Melia and Jo will be to STEAM what Rosie Revere is to STEM. Melia is scientific and loves to create things in her backyard laboratory, but something is missing. Her inventions just aren't quite right. Enter Jo, her new friend with an artistic spirit. When you add the arts to sciences, something magical happens This whimsically illustrated picture book is the perfect introduction to the benefits of STEAM-focused curriculum.
Grade Band: 3-7
The Ship is Dead: Magnus Chase and The God's of Asgard: Book 3 (NA576)
Narrated by: Michael Fryar
Author: Rick Riordan
Book Trailer: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RqKlXvdVGyN855t0UuO6J6lDwW27UWRe
Book Link: https://learningally.org/BookDetails/BookID/NA576
Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin's chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn't naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus faces his most dangerous trial yet. His cousin, Annabeth, recruits her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, to give Magnus some pointers, but will his training be enough? Loki is free from his chains. He's readying Naglfar , the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It's up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it's ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. Magnus's biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?
Grade Band: 8+
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Series: Book 1 (NA473)
Narrated by: Paul Morgan
Book Trailer: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RqKlXvdVGyN855t0UuO6J6lDwW27UWRe
Malcolm Polstead and his daemon, Asta, are used to overhearing news and the occasional scandal at the inn run by his family. But during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm finds a mysterious object—and finds himself in grave danger. Inside the object is a cryptic message about something called Dust; and it’s not long before Malcolm is approached by the spy for whom this message was actually intended. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he begins to notice suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra. Lyra is at the center of a storm, and Malcolm will brave any peril, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through it.
The Literature Community finished recording 80 books in July, 2019! Thank you all for all the hard work.
I mostly do recording of instructional text with occasional checking of other’s files. In the 90’s, I was on the board of directors for the Orland Park studio.
How long have you volunteered at Learning Ally?
This is my 25th year of volunteering for Learning Ally (previously known as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic).
After all my children were out of the house and off to school, I had more free time on my hands and wanted to volunteer. I have always felt that blind people faced challenges in everyday life and learning and so I wanted to share my eyesight in a constructive helpful manner.
What's something most people at LA don't know about you?
Perhaps, that I used to work as an extra in TV and film.
What do you like most about volunteering at LA?
With the advent of our virtual studio, I like the flexibility it affords me in sitting to record at any time of the day I wish. I also enjoy the gratification I receive in knowing that some student somewhere really needs the book I’m working on and will learn from it. Moreover, another thing I enjoy about recording for LA is that I am learning as well from every book I read.
Do you have any advice for prospective LA volunteers?
Ease into the process and understand that you will not know everything at once. Staff and other volunteers are very helpful and always there to lend advice. Even now, I still learn new things.
What is your favorite audio book/ book if you have any?
When I was recording Inferno by Dan Brown, I became so engrossed in the story that I was going to the studio extra days to read it.
During my free time I most enjoy singing in a choir, making quilts, going to movies, reading, traveling and spending time with my family of six children, their spouses, and eleven grandchildren.
I like all the PBS shows, Downton Abbey, Grantchester, Call the Midwife, Doc Martin etc. The intrigue of Raymond Reddington on Blacklist captivates me.
As part of the Literature community, I am happy to be narrating children’s books and I am learning a lot from the other volunteers in the virtual literary salon.
As a checker in the Textbook community, I have listened to many well-spoken narrators! This summer, I joined the textbook pre-production pilot where I am writing project guidelines for textbooks, mostly English textbooks. I have also helped to update the project guideline template to make it easier to use.
I started volunteering at Learning Ally in Fall 2018.
My son is dyslexic and, for the past five years, he has used the LA app to read higher level books. He listens to LA books almost every day. I wanted to contribute to this great cause to help children with learning differences love reading. I enjoy reading to my son and wanted to “read” to other children by narrating books.
I enjoy hiking and have hiked in ten National Parks so far. My goal is to hike in all National Parks in the US. Also, I would love to work for LA as part of the staff.
Because it is a virtual working environment, I can work on my own time and at my own pace. I like interacting with the staff and other volunteers on hangouts. Everyone is extremely nice!!
You can find a niche for yourself in any of the writing, editing, narrating opportunities.
What is your favorite audiobook/ book if you have any?
I enjoy listening, with my son, to the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.
I like to spend as much time as I can with my family at the ocean, swimming, kayaking, walking, and eating ice cream.
Lately, I have been watching the Jack Ryan series on Amazon.
What do you do at LA?
I am currently the Director of Production Technology & Training. I direct the development of our production software and volunteer website and assist in their maintenance, and also design and develop our online training modules and lessons with Russell Collins, our excellent Instructional Designer. I recently completed an M.Ed. degree in Learning, Design & Technology.
How long have you worked here?
I have worked at LA for 16 years as of September 22nd.
What made you want to work at LA?
I was a volunteer and really loved it...I had little kids at the time, and it was great to exercise my mind, talk with adults, and use my law degree to help record massive law textbooks. When a part-time position was available, the timing was good so I started working here as well.
I like to make beaded jewelry, we have a rescue dog named Lucy, and we're keeping my daughter's pet rats before she moves for a clerkship next month.
What do you like the most about working at LA?
I love working at Learning Ally because of the people. One of our core values is that "people matter" and the staff and volunteers inspire and challenge me to do my best to help students get what they need to succeed and learn to love books!
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
It's difficult to find enough time to do all that needs to be done, and we also try to do everything efficiently to make the best use of our funds and that can be challenging at times.
Relax and work through the training...it will help but you'll also continue to learn on the job! Producing audiobooks is very rewarding and many volunteers love doing it...but it's not a casual volunteering activity. For those who are looking for a less involved task, we recommend the QA opportunity where you can review our audiobooks in the same app that our students use. Always remember that we are glad to help as well..reach out through the training hangouts, email or however you prefer...we are there for you!
I read mostly science fiction and fantasy, and some of my favorites include Ender's Game, Hyperion, Altered Carbon, The Sparrow, Cryptonomicon, and Ready Player One.
Read of course ;-), play games (board, card, and computer games), water aerobics, and watch TV.
What is your favorite movie or TV series?
It's a Golden Age of television in my opinion; bingeing a TV show has become more enjoyable as they have been able to explore niche genres and compelling story arcs. Recently we have enjoyed Chernobyl, The Expanse, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Americans, Killing Eve. and When They See Us.
The Literature Community finished recording 90 books in June!! I want to thank both our volunteers and staff members for helping us record these books.