Team Member Spotlight: Celina Artusi
Updated: 2 days ago
During the pandemic lockdown, our organization more than doubled its number of team members. We are so excited for you to meet them!
In this post, we'd like to introduce you to Education Specialist Celina Artusi.
Like many of our team members, Celina came to YokyWorks as a career pivot, knowing little about the complexities of the reading process, but with a strong academic and professional record and a commitment to helping students succeed. She has learned quickly under Jane Milan’s tutelage and now serves as both an Education Specialist for YokyWorks students and a mentor for new Milan method trainees. Our Marketing Coordinator, Sarah Petersen, recently sat down with Celina to learn more about her passion for literacy and her approach to working with students.
Sarah: What drew you to working with YokyWorks?
Celina: I was drawn to YokyWorks because of the people: those within our organization who are extremely passionate about literacy as well as the amazing kids and their families who we serve. Literacy is a right and a gift. It’s a means to equity and advancement in our society, but it’s also a source of personal fulfillment. Literacy allows us to create, identify, understand, interpret, communicate and connect.
Sarah: What surprised you most when you were first undergoing Milan method training to become an Education Specialist?
Celina: What surprised me most about learning the Milan method was how much I didn’t know about reading and spelling. Admittedly, I did not struggle learning how to read as a child. That said, knowing what I know now, it’s a miracle that I ever learned given how I and the majority of people are taught. Learning the Milan method has also made me more appreciative and curious about language, and specifically English. As someone who is bilingual, I thought English made no sense compared to other languages, but it turns out I was just never explicitly taught the rules. Our language does make a lot of sense if people are given those codes and those rules.
Sarah: What part of your job are you most passionate about?
Celina: I’m passionate about filling a need that is unmet for most children. Across the socioeconomic spectrum children are not able to perceive, differentiate, and manipulate sounds in our spoken language and unfortunately the majority of schooling will never address this. This ability to perceive sound greatly impacts their reading and spelling and all kids deserve to know it. What’s exciting about the Milan method, is that it’s quick without compromising effectiveness, it allows students to see results and feel progress soon, which builds their confidence and helps them internalize what we’ve known all along - which is that they are absolutely brilliant.
Sarah: What do you like most about the Milan method approach?
Celina: What I love is that the Milan method is highly adaptable. I have one student who is a huge Harry Potter buff, so I adapted some of our activities to be Harry Potter themed, which included a syllable Slytherin duel, as well as creating nonsense spells. It’s not a one-size-fits all program because all of our students are so different.
Sarah: All of us deliver the program a little differently because we have such diverse personalities and experiences. How would you describe your personal teaching style?
Celina: I help my students succeed by allowing them to show up exactly as they are and also to create a space that is comfortable and encouraging. My job, as I see it, is to be their biggest fan and cheerleader, which allows them to safely explore new concepts. I make sessions fun by being as goofy and approachable as the students themselves. If we do encounter any obstacles or challenges, I really try to meet those with humor. It’s my goal to act as more of a teammate than a teacher and I try not to take myself too seriously.
Sarah: I know that one of the things you are most passionate about is improving your students’ confidence. Can you tell me about how you do that?
Celina: I improve students’ confidence by reminding them of their gifts. I’m also always honest and transparent with them. It also always helps to remind them that the things they are learning are unknown to the majority of adults. They leave this program more informed than teachers, parents, students, and adults alike.
Sarah: Struggles with reading can certainly affect a person’s confidence, both academically and professionally. What would you say to a YokyWorks student who believes that they are less intelligent than their peers?
Celina: For any child who thinks their struggles with reading make them less intelligent than others, I would say, you can’t see most people’s struggles and everybody has them. Your power is in facing those struggles and by being vulnerable and open and empathetic about your own, you allow somebody else to do the same. What we teach in the Milan method is beyond what most adults know, which should make any kid feel really smart!