Make The Connection

June 27, 2024 | By Cole Hatcher

Marissa Dial '26 reads one of her favorite childhood books, Harold and the Purple Crayon,' to students as part of her literacy lead internship at Advantage Cleveland Tennis and Education Inc. (Photo by Vijaya Sadler)

Literacy Lead

Ohio Wesleyan Student Helps Children Learn English Through Cleveland-Based Program

Marissa Dial '26 takes a selfie with two students at Advantage Cleveland. Her internship is administered by the Summer on the Cuyahoga program. (Photo courtesy of Marissa Dial '26)

Name: Marissa Dial '26
Hometown: Pickerington, Ohio
High School: Pickerington High School North
Major: English (English for Educators concentration)

OWU Connection Experience: Summer internship with Advantage Cleveland Tennis and Education Inc. (AdvantageCLE) in Cleveland, Ohio

Dial is spending her summer working as a Literacy Lead for AdvantageCLE, a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) program that seeks to "provide tennis and learning opportunities to children in urban areas, prevent the summer learning slide, and enhance the student's educational experience year-round."

Dial's internship is coordinated by the Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC) program, which works to showcase and attract talent to Northeast Ohio. SOTC provides up to 80 internships each summer to students from nine U.S. colleges and universities, including Ohio Wesleyan.

My Responsibilities

"I teach literacy (English) to kids. I am the lead teacher for ages 12-16. I have to plan all my lessons and successfully teach and lead a group of 10-25 students daily."

One second, a student can be having a rough day and not want to participate, and simply asking them how they're doing and having a little chat with them about something that they are interested in can turn an entire day around.

Marissa Dial '26

My Favorite Moments

"My favorite moments as a teacher at Advantage Cleveland are seeing how excited the students get just to know that you care about them and that you are there for them.

"It is astonishing how much of a difference a smile, a hug, or a 'How are you doing today?' can make. One second, a student can be having a rough day and not want to participate, and simply asking them how they're doing and having a little chat with them about something that they are interested in can turn an entire day around."

Lessons Learned

"One of the most important lessons to learn as a teacher is that students will not listen to you or care about what you have to say if they believe that you do not care about them or care about their success. They need to feel like you are on their team. … This can also apply to our everyday connections with people because if someone believes that you do not like them, they will not respect your opinion or anything that you have to contribute. Making positive connections with people is truly your best asset.

"I've learned a lot about motivation and how to work around the lack of it. When there is a day off from school, students hate to learn the day before the break and the day after the break. As a student, I fully understand that nobody likes a test before a winter break. Nobody likes a huge assignment right before you get a long weekend, and the same goes for the students that I teach in my curriculum. I specifically designed homework and very relaxed and easy days right before all weekends and holidays."

Teaching and Advocating

"One thing I have learned that ties into my future plans is that although I do still want to be a teacher … teachers deserve to be paid much more than they are currently being paid. ... I cannot wait to be a teacher and make a positive impact in students' lives, but I will be a part of the change to teacher wages because that's not only what they deserve, but that's what should be due to all of the responsibilities that teachers carry on a daily basis."

Why These Experiences Matter

"Experiences like the specific internship that I have matter because I am face-to-face with students that I will be dealing with in the future, and I am getting to learn about them in an environment that is relaxed enough that if I make a mistake, there is room to improve."

Working with the OWU Career Connection

"Working with the Ohio Wesleyan Career Connection office helped me put together my résumé to get the internship that I got and to get approved for this program, which was so incredibly helpful just because I did not know where to start. It is so difficult to make a résumé when you're starting with a blank sheet of paper."

My Cleveland Experience

"Personally, I love Cleveland. I've had so many positive experiences in Cleveland that have to do with the people who are living in Cleveland."

My Campus Involvements

"My main campus involvements include working at the scene shop for the drama center. I've really enjoyed my time working there because of Professor (Carrie) Hurst and also because I've gotten to learn how to do welding, which is something important to me because my father is a welder, so it made me feel like I could learn a skill to bring us a little bit closer." (Hurst is the director of production/technical director for OWU's Department of Performing Arts.)

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan?

"All decisions that I have made have had to do with finances due to my current situation."

My Plans After Graduation

"After graduation, I plan to be a teacher in any capacity that I can. I hope that Ohio Wesleyan can get me a job as a teacher when I graduate, but if that is out of their capabilities, then I am OK with being a substitute teacher or working in some shape or form in the education system because they need people like me to make a positive act."