Intern Spotlight: Margo P.

Name: Margo Pedersen
Hometown: New Haven, CT
College and Major: Amherst College, Education Studies and Sociology
Tutoring Site: Bristol Street
Clubs: Finance 101 and Arts and Crafts
Favorite Childhood Book(s): Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

Growing up in New Haven, New Haven Reads was something of a household name. I’ve had friends who were students here, friends who volunteered here, even friends who interned here. As an intern this summer, it’s finally my turn to join the New Haven Reads community, and I’m grateful to be able to play a small part in the organization’s dedicated service to the city.

I have loved my internship experience so far. At the beginning of every tutoring hour, a new group of students floods into the back room at Bristol Street, bringing excitement, nerves, and a healthy dose of chaotic energy into the space. With the support of dedicated staff and volunteers, everyone settles into their tutoring session or club, and the hour of learning begins. Each student has their own personality, interests, strengths, and a way of seeing the world that is entirely unique. I’m excited to be able to work with so many different students, and I feel I am learning as much from them as they are from me.

Though I’ve only been here for three short weeks, my highlight has been leading the Finance 101 club. When I was given this assignment at the beginning of the summer, I was a little nervous. I’m still learning finance myself–how could I possibly teach it to middle schoolers? But with plenty of support from my site staff and fellow intern, and a great group of kids, I soon learned that personal finance could actually be pretty fun. We’re working together on a real-world personal finance simulation, where students earn “paychecks,” pay bills, make purchases, and learn how to save their money to meet group and individual savings goals. The students have plenty of their own experiences and insights about money to share, and I love hearing what they have to say. For example, this week, we had a very spirited discussion about budgeting, where students debated whether certain purchases were needs, wants, or items for savings. “If you have a pet hamster, is hamster food a need or a want?” I asked them. “A need!” most responded, except for one student: “A want!” he said. “Because why did you need to buy a hamster in the first place?”

Whether I’m cashing checks with middle schoolers, helping students in Arts and Crafts club make their own beaded bracelets, or reading Elephant and Piggie in the silliest voice I can muster during the tutoring hour, it is always an honor to watch students’ confidence and skills blossom in such a warm, welcoming environment. I’m grateful to the New Haven Reads staff for their support and to the KeyBank Foundation for this incredible internship opportunity. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the summer!