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Paraclete helps Boston students learn through pandemic

The Paraclete IS providing groceries for their students through a partnership with Lovin’ Spoonfuls.Molly Zollo

Like other after school programs, The Paraclete in South Boston has had to adapt its teaching style due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the nonprofit continues to help students learn.

Teachers are tutoring Boston Public School students online, and student interns from Boston College have made videos to inspire kids as they learn from home. Lesley University interns are providing one-on-one meetings with students focused on their well-being.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” said Joe Burnieika, the executive director.

The program has moved to virtual tutoring sessions with students, allowing them to supplement their schoolwork with one-on-one attention, Molly Zollo, the program director, said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.


“We’re coming through as a support,” she said.

They are also providing virtual test preparation for the future MCAS test, she said.

Parents have been inquiring about the program, specifically regarding the test prep, while their children are learning from home. About 10 new students are expected to start within the week, Zollo said.

The Paraclete has also provided groceries for their students through a partnership with Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a Boston-based food rescue agency, Burniekika said.

Both Burnieika and Zollo said they hope The Paraclete will run their summer program with adjustments.

“We‘ll have to do things very locally,” Burnieika said.

The summer program, which usually runs from the last week of June to August, typically features field trips. But this year, they may focus on events at their South Boston location such as yoga classes, an arts and crafts program, or cooking demonstrations, Burnieika said.

“Everything depends upon the restrictions that the city and other officials will give us,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we can and we’re planning on it.”

The program continues to work with Boston Public Schools to discuss the progress of students they work with, he said.


Interns from Boston College and Lesley University have discovered a new way to help, as well, Zollo said.

Boston College interns have created educational videos about topics students struggle with including math, reading, geology, classic literature, and science, Burnieika said.

“It’s amazing what these students have done,” he said.

Interns from Lesley University have been working with students in one-on-one meetings focused on their emotional well being during the pandemic, Zollo said.

“We just feel really lucky that we’ve been able to continue to support our students and families during this times,” she said.

Andrew Stanton can be reached at andrew.stanton@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @_andrewstanton.