CIANA Launches Online Tutoring & SONYC Programs

Tutor Kyung Mo Kim using Zoom's virtual whiteboard feature with one of our tutoring students. Photo: Sophie Riina

While CIANA's office in Astoria remains closed for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are happy to announce that we are making the shift to remote learning and online tutoring for our elementary school students!

Amid the growing pandemic, it is our top priority at CIANA to continue to provide support and assistance to our community. Our Education staff and our dedicated team of tutors have been working very hard to organize lesson plans so that our younger clients do not fall behind on their academics as they adjust to learning from home.

When schools switched to distance learning in mid-March, CIANA's Education Coordinator Sophie Riina realized that our students may need assistance with homework and navigating the workload online, as well as with maintaining adequate social interaction.

“[Students] would perhaps be interested in more enrichment activities online since they will be missing the social component of going to school every day," Sophie said.

Sophie thought that CIANA should offer services remotely in the same manner that schools are, “by utilizing applications such as Google Classroom and Zoom.” Zoom has allowed volunteers at CIANA to regularly meet with students and give guidance on their homework assignments.

One feature of Zoom that Sophie highlighted is the "virtual whiteboard," with which tutors can clearly demonstrate and walk students through questions they may have, and where students can work out solutions to problems till they find the correct answer.

Sophie views this opportunity to not only provide academic support to students, but to allow them to express their creativity and passions. She hopes to offer additional activities, perhaps on Fridays to kick off the weekend in a fun manner. Additional activities might include read-alouds, spelling bees, and movie viewing parties in order to give students the social experience of being in school.

“It has been great to see both the students and parents get involved with the tutoring sessions," Sophie said. I think everyone has been missing the social interaction that our regular sessions provide.”

One of our tutors, Kyung Mo Kim, decided to be part of the switch from in-person to online tutoring, and has been sharing his positive energy with our students. He reflects on his experience as a tutor so far, and his willingness to continue even as we move indoors:

“I am personally choosing to continue through the online service not only because of the fun I'm having working with the kids, but also to serve the cause of helping immigrant children integrate into this country. A lot of these children remind me of my own hardships as an immigrant, and this reflection drives me to continue volunteering at CIANA. I believe the children taught me more about myself than I taught them about their homework."

Online homework help began on Thursday, April 2. Like our in-person tutoring program, online tutoring will continue on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

In addition to online tutoring, we're also excited to offer our SONYC Middle School Program online as well. SONYC will be held Monday through Friday, just like the in-person program. All activities currently take place over Zoom but will soon transition to Google Meet.

We will continue to update our website and social media with the most current information regarding program schedules. Considering the recent announcement that NYC schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year, we urge parents to utilize our services so that even while at home, children get a fulfilling educational experience.