Jim Street is the Volunteer of the Month for May. Jim and his wife Emily Tien came to UUCSS in the early 2000s, looking for a place to build a community with their young kids. Although they visited a number of churches, UUCSS appealed because of its Religious Education Program and the strength of Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay as the minister. Over the years Jim developed more connections to the church. His family participated in the auctions, Catoctin retreats, and the fellowship dinners. Jim also joined one of the first In-Reach groups, with Tom Crews, Mark Ferrenz, and Kevin McAnaney. It was after his kids grew up that Jim started volunteering actively at UUCSS. He joined Deb Weiner’s Sunday Support team several years ago, and then began helping out with various property projects, which is right up his alley as a former shop teacher. He recently joined the Property Committee as well. His most recent property project was removing the large tree by the driveway. Jim noted he became involved in his various volunteer activities because someone asked.
A few years ago, at Emily’s suggestion, he and Emily took the teacher course for junior-high OWL and became certified junior-high OWL instructors. He is currently teaching his third junior-high OWL class. Jim enjoys teaching OWL because it is a thing he can do and he likes to teach. This year, he has one co-teacher. In the past the junior high OWL team has comprised four teachers, which Jim would like UUCSS to have again. The OWL classes are taught in two-hour sessions over a seven-month period. To fit in the entire curriculum, sometimes the OWL class will have a sleepover at which they do two sessions in the evening and one in the morning. Jim gratefully noted that he and his co-teacher are not required to sleep over—the parents take on that responsibility. Some of the projects they do during the classes include constructing models of the human reproduction system with balloons and pipe cleaners and learning about contraception, which includes putting condoms on balloons. Jim thinks junior high is a very good time to tackle these subjects, when the kids are aware of the possibilities, but do not yet need to use the information. Jim’s many years of teaching seventh graders stands him in good stead. He is reported to be able to handle any questions he’s asked by the kids without missing a beat. Jim says it is truly his pleasure to be a part of the team of people doing things at UUCSS.