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  • Meredith Shaw

Learning and Leading Through Service: Mya Leonforte Receives Youth Asset Builder Award

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

Mya Leonforte of Middleton, a Masco Class of 2023 graduate, was awarded Tri-Town Council’s (TTC)’s Youth Asset Builder award and $500 scholarship in recognition of her service and commitment to her peers and community. The award is given to exceptional seniors who demonstrate engagement, growth, leadership, and commitment through Tri-Town Council programs. TTC’s Youth Programs Coordinator Dawn Seymour nominated Mya for this award because Mya's tremendous growth as a committed youth leader and dedicated tutor was due to her exceptional willingness to learn, collaborate, and, after reflecting on her work, experiment with new strategies to meet the needs of the youth with whom she was working.

Mya first became involved with Tri-Town Council as a freshmen volunteer at TTC’s annual 7th grade fun night, a night hosted by TTC at the end of each summer for soon to be Masco 7th graders. It’s a night of fun, games, new connections, and offers 7th graders an opportunity to become more familiar with the Masco campus, while spending time in small groups participating in activities led by high school youth volunteers. An older high school friend of hers from her dance class encouraged Mya to participate as a way to earn community service hours. That first experience of service through TTC programs made an impression, and led Mya to return as a 7th grade fun night volunteer her junior and senior years, leading group activities, answering their questions about middle school, and helping them master unlocking the combination lock - which is often a concern of new middle school students! “I loved working the 7th grade fun night, and I also had a really good time myself at it when I was in 7th grade, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Tutoring was always an interest of Mya’s and something she wanted to explore, but she wasn’t sure how to start. When she came across a flyer promoting TTC’s Virtual Peer Tutoring program, started during the pandemic to provide academic support and enrichment to Tri-Town students, Mya reached out to learn more about the program. When she learned that TTC would provide skills training and match tutors with students to work with, she thought it was a great opportunity for her to learn, give back, and build some credentials. As it turns out, tutoring clicked with her. Mya shared, “I liked it so I kept doing it.”

Mya shared that the experience of tutoring had an impact on her understanding of how different people learn. “The best part of tutoring was how much I was able to learn - especially how much goes into planning lessons and really making sure students are engaged and tailoring it to their needs.” In an effort to make tutoring fun for the kids she worked with, she would try to plan activities that they enjoyed, based on their interests, learning styles and academic content they were working on, which took a significant amount of time, thought, and effort. Dawn, who coordinated the program and trained and supported tutors, shared how impressed she was with Mya’s commitment and skills, reflecting, “Mya did this beautifully. She was able to effectively recognize what her tutee needed and worked with parents and even teachers to make sure she was making the most of each session.”

Mya reflected on how much the tutoring experiences improved her own planning skills. With each session, “there’s a lot of planning that goes into what we are going to do and how we are going to do it … because you need to tailor it to them.” She strengthened her communication skills too, especially with adults given that many of her students were on the younger side. “There was a lot of communication with parents, checking in and making sure they’re seeing progress and were happy about how things were going.”

Mya is taking her knowledge, skills and experiences working with younger youth with her to Syracuse University this fall where she is planning to study elementary and special education. Her career options are open, but she is drawn to teaching, special education advocacy or perhaps a career as an attorney.

Congratulations on being a Youth Asset Builder, Mya! Thank you for your service to the Tri-Town community! We wish you all the best.

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