Volunteer Spotlight: Celebrating David Stein’s 25 Years of Volunteering

David Stein started volunteering in 1998, when he joined the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) as a young, wide-eyed actor in San Francisco.  At his first member meeting, one of the speakers that night spoke about the SAG Foundation’s volunteer group, BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools).  They were looking for volunteer actors to go out into schools to read books aloud to K-5 students and he signed up on the spot!  To this day, David uses his theatre training when reading to kids by acting out stories to get students dialed in.  After a reading session, he engages with them in a lively discussion about what they think about the characters and themes. “It always blows my mind how much they pick up on!” David said, “I leave feeling totally invigorated. It never gets old. Volunteering at BAM has been such an uplifting experience and something I’m most proud of.”

David has been volunteering with 2nd grade Berkeley Arts Magnet teacher Andrea Cruchett for 6 years!  He could tell that she was very passionate about teaching, so they connected right away.  He said “the highlight has been how open she has been to my approach to reading aloud. She placed a lot of trust in me from day one and has always been so supportive. Andrea really loves her students and it shows. It also helps that we have the same taste in children’s classics.”

The love and appreciation is mutual! See Andrea’s message about David below:

“I would like to appreciate our incredible Berkeley Schools Volunteer, David Stein! Mr. David, as our kids fondly call him, has been volunteering in my classroom since my first year of teaching, six years ago. However, this is his 25th year volunteering with the district! David comes in each week to spark a joy in reading and to share his love of storytelling. He comes prepared with enchanting stories, and plans elaborate units where students get to compare folktales and learn about different cultures. David also uses his talents as an actor to bring characters to life and model the best reading skills to our young students. My students are never more captivated than when they are on our rug listening to Mr. David. He has shown up to our plays, our class parties, and our celebrations.

 When we moved to online learning, David did not miss a beat! He quickly jumped on Zoom and learned how to use special backgrounds before anyone else so that students could travel with him to wherever that week’s story was taking place. Twenty five years of Berkeley students have been given the great gift of David’s time and talents, and for that and all that he does for our community, we thank him!”

– Andrea Cruchett, 2nd grade BAM teacher

One heartwarming story David shared was right after he had just finished reading a book by one of his favorite authors Chris Van Alsburg.  When he had finished and started to leave, a student followed him to the door and very quietly asked him who the author was so he could write it down. When he told him, he looked very excited and went skipping back into class. “Moments like that just really remind me of the positive impact I’m making”, he shared.

For those interested in volunteering, David offered this invitation: “There are no prerequisites. No tests to take. Just show up with your life experience, your energy, and authenticity. It’s all you need to make a difference in these young kid’s lives.” Thank you for your 25 years of service, dear David Stein!

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