Tatyana Komarova knows that 2020, with school closures and imperfect hybrid learning models, was an incredibly difficult time for students – especially for those from underserved communities.
To help level the learning playing field, the nonprofit that Komarova leads – the Carmel-based – is offering free online public speaking and etiquette programs for underprivileged kids. They are available to children between the ages of 10 and 15 who are involved in free or reduced-lunch programs at their schools and who have access to a computer and the internet.
Although the programs have been offered at the Monon Center in Carmel for several years, Komarova said this year marks the first time they have been offered free to underprivileged kids.
“During the spring, summer and fall, most kids lost availability to after-school activities due to COVID-19,” said Komarova, the ITA’s founder and executive director. “We decided to design online, interactive programs so kids can connect and have the live communication with other kids and teachers. We ran several virtual classes during the fall, and they were very successful.
“Later, we came up with the idea to offer our programs to kids who do not have the opportunity to take them. This is our part of giving back to the community.”
Public speaking classes will be offered every Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. from Jan. 26 through March 16, and 21st-century cotillion classes will be offered every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. from Jan. 29 to March 19. The cost is normally $120 for each eight-week course.
“(Participants) will take away knowledge that they will be able to use at school right away,” Komarova said. “(They will) get motivation and encouragement to improve on their skills, meet new friends and raise their self-esteem.”
For more or to apply for the classes, visit internationaltalentacademy.org or email Komarova at [email protected]. The registration deadline is Jan. 17.