Summer Programming at New Haven Reads

This summer, enrichment clubs at New Haven Reads have been an entirely new experience for everyone — for the students, the families, the helpers, and even the staff — as they were all carried out remotely.

These enrichment clubs range from Chess to Origami, and the New Haven Reads Interns and Fellows have been responsible for planning and leading them.

Natalia Miasek, a rising senior at the University of New Haven and Summer Fellow at New Haven Reads, had some worries about online learning initially. “As someone who prefers face-to-face contact and feels more confident when working in person…I originally thought that Zoom would be difficult to work with and I wouldn’t be able to make personal connections over a webcam,” she shared. “I was proven wrong about using Zoom and was able to get close with my students and the staff at New Haven Reads.”

                                                 Natalia, Her Student, and Elena (A Summer Intern)

Everyday, she is excited to see her students and volunteers in the two clubs she leads, Math I and Make and Take. But tutoring sessions have also been significant to her throughout the summer. “One of the most special moments was with a student I tutored who came from a different culture and loved sharing about it,” Natalia remembered. “She shared very personal stories and we talked about her culture…I looked forward to learning something new when talking to her.”

Robert Oakley, a Summer Intern attending Western Connecticut State University, felt that the tutoring sessions were the best part of his experience. “There are these students who like to fight for my attention because they’re brothers, they’re very sweet and they’re always, always prepared to get their work done,” he said.

Robert and His Student

Another Summer Fellow, Abigail Eswarakuma, thought that the day-to-day moments on Zoom were the most meaningful. These moments, she said, range from the students getting a math problem right or reading a bigger chapter book, or even just sounding out a word, after which they “jump up in excitement!”

Picture Created by Abigail and Her NHR Student

Undoubtedly, this summer had its fair share of challenges at the start, but through hours of planning, brainstorming, and Zooming, these challenges quickly dissipated, replaced by hundreds of positive interactions and memories.

Natalia ended with a comment that in many ways represents the surprising capacity for connection that distance learning still allowed for: “We dance to celebrate each question she gets right, and we do a lot of dancing during our sessions!”

Our Summer Intern positions are funded by the First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank. Be on the lookout for an upcoming blog series from our 4 interns.