Last summer, WYSO alumna Emily Stephenson became familiar with the Minnesota Literacy Council while teaching a literacy class to children as a Summer Reads VISTA volunteer.
“I had such a life changing experience that I chose to continue my service with the Minnesota Literacy Council,” Emily said. “I am passionate about the immense impact improving literacy can have on individuals, families, and communities. I wanted to dedicate this next year of my life to helping a local nonprofit grow in their ability to change lives and give back to the community with the power of literacy.”
Emily is currently a Literacy Leader sponsored by the Minnesota Literacy Council, and participates in their Minnesota Literacy Leadership Program, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program.
Her host site is Hopewell Music Cooperative North, a nonprofit music school in North Minneapolis which provides affordable, high-quality music lessons and programming in a community with limited arts access. Hopewell’s mission is to “inspire students to grow, discover, and express themselves through music.”
“Hopewell, along with myself, believes in the incredible power music has to improve social and emotional wellbeing, teach discipline and goal setting, and inspire students to become lifelong learners,” Emily said. “My project is particularly special because it explores how music, by instilling these aforementioned skills, can promote literacy skills, as well. By bringing music into the conversation surrounding literacy, it opens up our imaginations to think of new and inspiring ways to enhance literacy curriculum across the board.”
Emily currently plays French horn in the Dakota Valley Symphony, the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, and is a substitute with the Minnesota Symphonic Winds and the St. Paul Civic Symphony. She is also a member of the Twin Cities Horn Club, and is considering going back to school for a master’s degree in music.
As for her WYSO days, the early Saturday morning rehearsals were worth the effort.
“One of my absolute favorite memories from WYSO is playing in the Brass Choirs before orchestra rehearsal started,” Emily said. “At the time I was upset I had to be awake even earlier on a Saturday morning, but now I am so thankful for those early Saturday mornings and the music that was made with friends. I’ll also never forget our 2014 tour to Argentina, especially performing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 to wonderful audiences!”
Learn more about Emily’s work with Hopewell Music at hopewellmusic.com.