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Summer Internships: Ava St. Pere '24

September 22, 2022

Name: Ava St. Pere
Class Year: 2024
Major: English
Hometown: Evansville, Indiana

Internship Organization: Spells Writing Lab
Job Title: Summer Program Intern
Location: Philadelphia, PA

This summer, I am an intern at Spells Writing Lab, a free creative writing program for kids in Philadelphia. I applied to Spells in hopes of sharing my love for writing with Philly’s youth while learning to be a better leader and writer myself, and I am so grateful to have achieved these things through this experience. I’ve spent the last two months working with four other interns and a supervisor to create five weeks of unique camp themes and activities to promote love and excitement for writing while developing the children’s reading, writing, and spelling skills. From fantasy week to villain week, we’ve planned and executed projects that have been just as entertaining (if not more entertaining) for the interns as they have been for the kids.

Although my job is to be a mentor to the kids, I believe I’ve learned as much from them as they have from me. The first four weeks of camp have taught me patience, creativity, and the ability to think and plan on the fly. This small taste of teaching has brought so much respect for teachers, parents and caregivers for all of the magic they create while working with kids, especially with kids from far different backgrounds and at different points in their learning journeys.

I never understood just how much patience and flexibility were required to work with kids at various skill levels with diverse needs, but working with kids anywhere from six to fourteen years old has required me to provide many different kinds of support to the broad range of kids with whom I work. For example, my first week I was working closely with Grace, one of the camp’s youngest kids. At six years old, Grace had some trouble interacting with the older kids and needed my help with spelling, whereas many of the kids with just another year or two of education could spell by themselves with no help. With that being said, in some ways, she was far more independent and driven to write than some of the older children. I never needed to tell Grace twice to write something, and she would happily write a song about bees while I coaxed her groupmates into getting started. While her age reflected some skills she had yet to learn (as with all of the kids), her motivation and independence were unique.

Each child I’ve worked with has been different, and I’ve learned that though a child’s age can be an indicator of their education level, so many other factors influence the relationship they have with writing and learning. Nurturing a child’s ability to write requires a level of attentiveness to individuality that I never would have expected, especially when classroom learning is often so generalized. I feel honored to provide these kids with a more personal learning experience than they may be getting in the classroom. While I’ve always loved to write, as a child I was never involved with a program like Spells to encourage my passion for creative writing and to sharpen my skills. Witnessing all of these kids benefit from this opportunity makes me feel so lucky to be a part of such a fantastic and accessible program. Though I’ve only known these kids for a couple of weeks, I owe them so much for what they’ve taught me this summer. I’ll be leaving Spells a better Bryn Mawr student, a better mentor, and a better creative writer.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.