Spring 2018

Learning Latin

All of this year the children have been learning Latin with college student tutors who are studying classics.  They have been using a wonderful curriculum called Aequora which is designed specifically for after school programs. Below the children hold up papers and drawings showing some of their favorite Latin words.  If you look closely you will see “Lupa” for wolf and “Rex” for king among other words.


This spring we are blessed to have Ms. Wendy Zaeringer planning and leading Bible teaching for the children.  She has been wonderful!  Below are some of the activities she and the children did.

   Images from left to right: 1) board for Bible Jeopardy; 2) girls’ Jeopardy team; 3) boys’ Jeopardy team

 Watch Ms. Wendy and the kids play Bible Jeopardy


In the video below, Ms. Wendy and the kids do an activity that demonstrates lessons from I Corinthians 3:6-9 which reads as follows:

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 New International Version (NIV): I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.


Fall 2017

This year we are studying Homer’s Odyssey by reading a children’s version of the epic and creating art to go along with this reading.  The children are creating collage art in the style of African-American artist Romare Bearden who did a beautiful series called the Black Odyssey.  Below are images from Bearden’s work followed by examples of the children’s work.

Images from Romare Bearden’s Black Odyssey


Children’s Collage Art:

Homer’s Odyssey in the Style of Romare Bearden

From top left, going clockwise: 1) teacher Bridgit exhibiting children’s collages; 2) Cyclops collages; 3) Odyssey collages; 4) more collage art; 5) making collage art; 6) Circe collages

In November we had a wonderful reception to celebrate the children’s work and invite participants to financially support Nyansa.  Many of our teachers and tutors were there to show off the children’s work and answer questions about the work we do at Nyansa.

From top left, going clockwise: 1) mingling and talking; 2) Latin teachers; 3) Bible teacher and craft display; 4) children and teachers; 5) discussing Latin at Nyansa

May 2017

This summer we begin an exciting new activity where Nyansa students in New Orleans will be paired with students of matching age and gender in Haiti.  Students will exchange letters, photos and videos and learn about each others’ lives and cultures.  Students in Haiti will come from College Susan Schuenke, a private school located in Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Angel Parham, Nyansa’s Executive Director, and Maryka Zee, an intern who works with Nyansa, will travel to Haiti in late May to deliver letters from the children in New Orleans and to collect them from students in Haiti.We are excited to begin this journey.

A photo of College Susan Schuenke in Cap Haitien, Haiti

Nyansa students working with Maryka to compose their letters to their counterparts in Haiti

March and April 2017

Nyansa students learn cursive writing during our Saturday sessions.  Many schools no longer teach cursive, but it remains a very important skill.  Adults who never learn cursive are at a disadvantage when colleagues write in cursive or when they need to read historic documents written in cursive.  The skill of cursive writing also adds a beauty to writing that is its own reward.

At left,  a volunteer helps a young student form cursive letters.  At right on the board is a story written by three students who each used a different color for their cursive writing.


In the photos above students in the Bible activity group do a lesson  that involves spelling out different people and concepts from the Bible.

During our family style lunch on Saturdays, volunteers facilitate discussion by asking questions designed to get everyone talking.

February 2017

Loyola University students from the Knowledge Empowering Youth (KEY) program  visited Nyansa to do a lesson, craft and game on the importance of recycling.  The craft consisted of making a simple toy out of recycled materials.

Following this, the KEY instructors explained what kinds of materials can and cannot be recycled.  The children were then divided into two teams.  Each team member grabbed an object from a box and then ran to the other side of the room and had to drop it either in the box marked for trash or recyclables.  The team that had the most correct division of materials won the game.

This spring we are happy to begin serving meals on both Wednesdays and Saturdays to Nyansa participants.  Because we have a three hour session on Saturdays we have a sit down, family style meal and each table has adult volunteers who are equipped with questions designed to get young people engaged in conversation.  We are grateful to the HOPE Food Pantry for providing these meals.

Enjoying a Saturday lunch and conversation

January 2017

We’re back after our Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  In keeping with our new schedule of meeting on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, our first day was Saturday January14th.  What a wonderful day is was!  We took the children on their first field trip.  This outing was to the Stella Jones Gallery where they held a storytelling session and craft activity for children in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

Nyansa Stella Jones Group Photo Jan. 2017

We arrived to find that C.C.H. Pounder–the noted actor–was present with us.  She addressed the children, told them about growing up in British Guyana, and read King’s speech from a children’s picture book in her beautiful, sonorous voice.

Actor C.C.H. Pounder Reads to the Children

After the reading of the MLK speech, Dr. Stella Jones, the owner of the gallery, introduced a children’s book version of Fannie Lou Hamer’s life story. As an introduction, Dr. Jones explained that when Ms. Hamer was a child she and others in her family had to pick cotton as sharecroppers.  Dr. Jones explained that picking cotton was not like touching the cotton balls the children are familiar with.  In order to show them what the experience was like, she passed around the branch of a cotton plant and told the children to feel how rough the part surrounding the cotton is.  In the photo below we see children from Nyansa passing the cotton plant around and feeling its roughness.

Nyansa Cotton Plant Experience Gallery Jan 2017

The children pass around a cotton plant to feel its roughness and better understand the hard labor of picking cotton.

The event at the gallery also included giving away lots of books to the children. These were books that dealt with different aspects of black history and the Civil Rights Movement. Every child received a book.  As an added surprise, the program organizers decided to donate all of the books that had not been given away to Nyansa!  Children who were not able to be present for the field trip will receive a book and all the rest will be added to our small, but growing program library.  What a blessing!  The entire day was so beautiful and the children had a great deal of fun.  We look forward to more of the same this semester.

Nyansa Book Giveaway Gallery Jan 2017

Everyone enjoys and delights in their new books from the book giveaway.

November Highlights

In the photos below you will see the kids playing during their transition time from school to the program. Then inside they learn about chemistry by doing an experiment with cranberry juice, lemon juice and baking soda–all led by the Xavier University chemistry club.

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Xavier Chemistry Club Activity

More Fun Chemistry Photos


October Highlights

This month we began to create a physical timeline of historical events beginning with the creation of the world.  We will continue to work on this throughout the year. The children also learned new Bible verses,created clay cuneiform tablets, and made “slime” with the Chemistry club of Xavier University.

Learning Romans 6:23

Timeline Panels for Creation, The Fall, The Flood, and the Tower of Babel

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Creating Clay Cuneiform Tablets: Learning About Sumerians


Chemistry Experiment with Xavier University Students: Creating “Slime”

Photos from the “Slime” Experiment.  Lots of fun!


September Highlights

In the photos below you will see some of the activities that kept us busy during the month of September.

Opening Prayer and Bible Lessons

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Learning about Ancient Sumerians: Cuneiform Drawing


Opening Week September 6-9, 2016

We’re Back!!!   After a restful summer, we are back for a new year with our young students.  This year we have grown from nine to fourteen children and are now meeting daily rather than just once a week.  We have also been joined by Quaneisha Reynolds, our new Community Ministry Intern who is a student at the New Orleans Baptist Seminary.  She is doing some wonderful, creative Bible lessons and activities with the kids and also helping with some of our other learning stations.  Here are some scenes from the week:

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Starting at the top from left to right: 1)working on language arts through phonics bingo; 2)spelling practice with movable letters; 3)Michelle and her family came as volunteers and led our history and culture station by singing the Classical Conversations Timeline Song and challenging students to put history cards in the right order following the cues in the song; 4) Coreen works on addition with number cards and cubes. .

Quaneisha presents a Bible verse for memory by using hand motions.


Quaneisha reads from the Creation Story in The Message as students follow along verbally.

April 12, 2016

After learning about the history and culture of Mesopotamia, the students began to learn about the story of Gilgamesh, a mean king who is thought to have lived thousands of years ago in the ancient town of Uruk.  Here is the story of Gilgamesh, briefly told:

Once there was a king named Gilgamesh who ruled over Uruk.  He was very hard and mean and made the people work hard doing building projects for him.  The people protested, praying to the gods that someone meaner and tougher than Gilgamesh would be created to challenge him.  The gods listened and created a strong wild man named Enkidu.  Enkidu lived like an animal in the forest until the gods sent a woman to tame him and show him how to live a civilized life with other humans.  After this, Enkidu met Gilgamesh.  After initially fighting, the two became great friends and went off on many fighting adventures together.  Unfortunately, Enkidu was killed during one of their adventures.  Gilgamesh was heartbroken and decided to look for the secret to eternal life.

In the photos below, first we see Sabrina reading the story of Gilgamesh to the group.  Following this, she guides them through a re-enactment of the story.  This re-enactment helps the students to take their understanding of the story to a deeper level.  Gilgamesh is an epic story originating from the Middle East, and learning about it broadens students’ understanding of different societies and cultures.

 Nyansa Sabrina Reads Gligamesh 04-12-16

Sabrina begins by reading the story of Gilgamesh.

In the photos below, the children act out the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

Nyansa Acting Out Gilgamesh Building Wall 04-12-16

Gilgamesh forces his people to build a big wall.

Nyansa Acting Out Gilgamesh Subjects Complain 04-12-16

The people rebel and accuse Gilgamesh of being a dictator.  They demand change.

Nyansa Acting OUt Gilgamesh-Enkidu Created 04-12-16

The people pray to the gods for a new, strong man to be created.  A man so strong that he will challenge Gilgamesh.  The gods agree and they make Enkidu (played by the boy in the red shirt).

Students Move to the Homework Room Where they Work on Core Academic Skills

In the homework room, two students work on an arithmetic puzzle that helps them to practice addition and subtraction.

Another group of students plays a game of word bingo which helps them to work on quickly recognizing sight words.


March 31, 2016

For the past few meetings students have been studying the societies and cultures of Mesopotamia.  In a previous week they drew on wet clay and then let it dry to simulate the process of cuneiform writing.  Today they listened to a story from Mesopotamia and colored in a map that showed them Mesopotamia in relation to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  Students also recognize the name Mesopotamia from the Timeline song–a 12 minute song where they are learning to sing history from the ancient world up to the present.  So far we are about 2 minutes into learning the song, around 2000 B.C.E.

Nyansa Mesopotamia Map Drawing 1-03-31-16Mesopotamia mpa coloring 2 03-31-16Mesopotamia map coloring 3 03-31-16

After we finished with academic enrichment, we went into the homework room.  In the photos below we see two students working on homework with teacher Sabrina.  When students do not come with homework, they work on academic skills using games or one-on-one help with a volunteer. Below, some play phonics bingo, and another works on her reading skills by reading a Bob Book with a Nyansa staff person.

Homework help 1 03-31-16Phonics Bingo 1 03-31-16Reading Practice 1 03-31-16Reading practice 2 03-31-16


Time to say good-bye for the day and thank you to Nyansa supporters.  Here some of the students hold up cards they made which will be included in thank you notes to Nyansa supporters.

Thank You Card Creation 03-31-16

Nyansa Classical Community Receives Zawadi Award from the National Association of Black Social Workers!!!(NABSW)

March 23, 2016

Each year the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) chooses an organization in the location of its annual conference to receive the Zawadi Award–a financial contribution toward the organization’s work.  We at Nyansa Classical Community are honored to be this year’s Zawadi recipients.  On this Tuesday evening, Angel and Danielle attended the fabulous opening plenary celebration where we represented Nyansa.  Below are photos that convey a flavor of the festive spirit reigning over the evening’s events.

NABSW Dancers 2016 NABSW Table 2016 Angel and Danielle NABSW ZawadiAngel and Danielle NABSW 2Drummers and Dancers NABSW 2016

March 8, 2016

For the next few sessions we will be studying the Sumerians and their use of clay and stylus to create writing through a system known as cuneiform.  This week they mold wet clay into medallions and then inscribe a figure or form into the clay.  This will dry and then next week students will paint them.  This activity reinforces what they have been learning through the Timeline Song and through readings about ancient Sumerian civilization.

Nyansa Group making medallions March 2016Nyansa CHild Clay Medallion Feb 2016Nyansa Child Making Medallion Mar 2016

January 26, 2016

We are back for the winter/spring semester and excited to work on some new projects.  The children started learning the Timeline Song by Classical Conversations last fall.  Now they will start to work on creating a hand-made timeline portraying the events they have been singing about.

In the video below, a student sings the first section of the Timeline Song.  Because her voice is soft, the words to this segment of the song are included in the caption.


Timeline, this is my timeline

Timeline, this is my timeline,

Timeline, timeline, we start at the beginning of the ages

Age of ancient empires,

Creation to circa 450 A.D.

Creation and the Fall,

The Flood and the Tower of Babel,

Mesopotamia and Sumer, Egyptians.

3000 B.C., 3000 B.C.

In the video clip below, Danielle does an introduction to ancient Egypt.  She draws on what the children have already heard about Egypt and prompts them to remember the words to the Timeline Song in order to chronologically place when the ancient Egyptians lived.

Next, Danielle shows the group Egyptian hieroglyphic stamps that they will use to write their names.  These name pictures will be added to the Egyptian panel on the hand-made timeline.

Hieroglyphic stamps

Hieroglyphic Stamps

Hieroglyphic stamps-group

Students gather stamps to write their names in Egyptian hieroglyphics

Hieroglyphic name Myri

Finished product

Hieroglyphic name LaKenya

A second student proudly shows her name in hieroglyphics

After working on their ancient Egypt project and doing some math games, students and tutors moved to the homework room. Some students work individually with tutors while others who are not doing homework read or work with Danielle on math skills with manipulable cubes.

Ayanna helps with HW Danielle and Math HW game HW room photo 1 HW room photo 2 Holly help with HW


Chuck E. Cheese End of Semester Celebration:  December 21,2015

Throughout the semester, students earned the privilege of participating in the end of semester Chuck E. Cheese celebration trip.  They earned “gems” by participating in learning activities, helping others, and exhibiting good behavior. From September through December they worked hard at math, writing, homework, and more and reaped the benefits today.  Here are some scenes from their celebration.

Nyansa Chuck E Cheese Game Madeleine and Julia 12-21-15 Nyansa Driving Game Derrin 12-21-15 Nyansa Fre and La Kenya Game 12-21-15 Nyansa Keneisha Chuck E Cheese Car 12-21-15 Nyansa Keneisha Game 12-21-15 Nyansa Pizza Chuck E Cheese 12-21-15 Nyansa Train Ride Fred 12-21-15

December 15, 2015

In the photos below we see Nyansa students studying cursive writing as a way to practice fine motor skills, attain beauty in writing, and to reinforce basic phonics.

Nyansa Cursive Writing Lesson 12-15-15

Danielle demonstrates cursive “d”.

Nyansa Cursive Writing Lesson 2 12-15-15

On the board, Danielle has written some of the students’ names so they can see them in cursive.

Nyansa Cursive Writing Practice 4 12-15-15

Student shows off his cursive writing.

Nyansa Cursive Writing Practice 3

Another student demonstrates her cursive writing skills.

Math Game

In the video clip below, students excitedly participate in a math game to practice learning number combinations that add up to 10.

Timeline Song

In the video clip below, students practice the words and motions for the Timeline Song.  This is a 12 minute song created by Classical Conversations.  Over the course of 12 minutes, students sing history from Creation through the 21st Century.  The song inter-weaves Biblical history with important historical moments from the beginning of the world to the present.

Learning the Timeline Song from Classical Conversations.

December 1, 2015

We return today after our Thanksgiving break.  In the photo below, a student shares from an activity she did over the break.  Parents were given MP4 players loaded with Anansi stories and scripture set to songs.  They were also given a unique notebook with blank pages on one side and lined pages on the other.  With this notebook, students were asked to draw something they heard from the story on the MP4 and then on the lined side of the page to write 1-3 sentences describing their picture.  This take-home work is meant to keep students and parents engaged in learning work during the break.  On returning to the program today, students who shared from their work received gems for their work and participation.  These gems can be used to buy small prizes throughout the semester.

Nyansa Reviewing Break Work 12-01-15

Reviewing work after Thanksgiving break.

Math Lesson

In addition to learning math through games and homework help, students learn to do skip counting set to memorable music.

Nyansa Counting by 3s 12-01-15

Counting by 3s

Students counting by 3s through song.

Reading Aloud

Every session we read aloud to students using stories that help them to draw ethical and moral lessons.  Today we read and discussed The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.

Nyansa Grouchy Ladybug REading 4 12-01-15

Reading The Grouchy Ladybug

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Students listen and draw what they hear in the story.

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More listening and drawing from The Grouchy Ladybug

Part of our discussion about The Grouchy Ladybug

November 10, 2015

After playing outside, we come back inside to share how the day was and to open in prayer.

Nyansa prayer circle 11-10-15

Prayer Time

Danielle does a math game with the children. Today the focus is on the number 10.  The children help Danielle make a “10 train”–a pairing of all of the numbers that added together make the number 10.

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The beginning of the “10 train”.  

Nyansa 10 train completed part 2 11-10-15

The “10 train” at its completion.

The 10 train activity in action with Danielle and several students.

In the photo below a student proudly holds up her drawing of events in the day’s story.  Beneath this is a video clip of her giving her presentation of the picture and the story to the group.  All students are encouraged to present and are given feedback on their presentation skills and how to improve them.

Nyansa Zamayri presentation drawing with smile 11-10-15

Drawing of the day’s Anansi story.

Student presentation with feedback on presentation skills.

Here we see photos of the “gem system”.  Gems are given to students for excellence in participation, listening, and helping.

Nyansa Gem Points Board 11-10-15

Number of gems is tallied on the program board for each day and for the semester.

Nyansa gem prize boxes 11-10-15

Once they have five or more gems, students can buy prizes with them. Here are boxes with the prices of the different prizes they can buy.

Nyansa Gem Line at end 11-10-15

Students line up to receive the gems they earned for the day and to place them in the jars they decorated for this purpose.

November 3, 2015

In the pictures below, students draw in response to the story of Anansi, the Owner of Stories–a story about how Anansi dominates story telling.  This cunning spider is always using trickery and wit to outsmart others.  Students draw their own versions of Anansi and then share the pictures and their oral summary of the day’s story.


Listening and drawing


One version of Anansi


Two more versions of Anansi

The photos below show our homework time.  Danielle and the tutors work with students on their assignments.


Danielle helps with math


Working on math


A spelling lesson


Writing practice

October 27, 2015

We begin each meeting with a circle where students and teachers share how their days were and then open in prayer.

Nyansa Intention-Prayer Time 2 10-27-15

Danielle leads sharing and prayer time

In the photo below students are excitedly decorating their “gem” jars.  Today we introduced the gem incentive system that allows students to earn gems–shiny beads–which they can exchange for prizes over time.  Here volunteers are helping to pass out fun adhesive decorations the students use to personalize their jars.  Each student begins with 15 “gems”.

Nyansa Decorating Gem Jars 1 10-27-15

Decorating “gem” jars and anticipating rewards.

Today’s story was about Anansi the spider.  The Anansi stories are West African folktales which have spread across the African diaspora.

A brief reading from the Anansi tale.

Nyansa Danny Picture Response 2 10-27-15

A pictorial response to the Anansi tale.  If you look closely you can see Anansi the spider hanging from a web.

Sharing picture response and giving oral presentation in response to the Anansi story.

Today’s math lesson focused on different aspects of the number nine.  First students respond to orally posed math questions verbally and in writing.  Then Danielle prompts them to think about the different number combinations that add up to nine.

Nyansa Math Counting-Writing Nine 10-27-15

Written response to a math problem.

Nyansa Math Lesson 10-27-15

More students participate in the math lesson.

Students call out different ways to get to the number nine by adding two numbers.

October 20, 2015

Today we are back after a week off for fall break.  In the photos below Nyansa students listen to an Aesop fable and respond through drawing what they hear. They are then invited to stand and present their work to the group.
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Danielle Reads

Nyansa 10-20-15 reading 1

Students listen and respond creatively through drawing.

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Danny’s pictorial response to the story

October 6, 2015

One of the disciplines Nyansa students learn is to listen carefully to stories and to process and express what they hear through drawing and oral narration–or telling back the story in their own words.  In the clip below, a Nyansa student practices his presentation skills as he presents his oral narration and drawing to other students.  This presentation is in response to Aesop’s fable, “The Eagle and the Tortoise”. Below the presentation clip is the longer written version of the “The Eagle and the Tortoise”.

Nyansa 10-06-15 Student Story Narration Tortoise and Eagle

Nyansa 10-06-15 Story Time Eagle and Tortoise

Danielle holds up the picture book with Aesop’s fable of  “The Eagle and the Tortoise”.  Here is a version of the fable:

A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. “I will give you,” she said, “all the riches of the Red Sea.” “I will teach you to fly then,” said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: “I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?’

If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.

Retrieved from: http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_aesop_tortoise_eagle.htm 

In the photos below, the children are doing an arithmetic lesson based on a classic math text, First Lessons in Arithmetic on the Inductive Plan, published in 1878.  The method uses inductive questioning to help students think and reason mathematically.  It combines a narrative approach to teaching math with reinforcement of written math skills. This method is supplemented by the use of manipulatives.

Nyansa 09-25-15 Math Pircutre Work 2 Keneisha and Erica

Two students respond to Danielle’s questions about a drawing used to elicit discussion of mathematical concepts.

Nyansa 09-25-15 Math Helping Erica Count

Danielle helps to guide a student who is responding to an arithmetic problem based on the drawing.

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September 29, 2015

In the video clip below, Danielle works with a student who is learning how to form cursive letter “g”.  In the photos below this, Nyansa students learn how to write lower case “a” in cursive.  Nyansa uses the Spell to Write to Read curriculum which combines the learning of phonograms with the teaching and reinforcement of writing skills.  The teaching of cursive is a dying art in many schools, and yet students who learn to write in cursive benefit from improved fine motor skills, enhanced creativity, and the ability to read contemporary and historical documents accessible only to those who can read cursive script.


Nyansa 10-06-15 Student Learns Cursive Letter g

In the photos below students learn step-by-step to make cursive letter “a”

Nyansa 09-29-15 SWR Letter a

Students practice air writing lower case “a” in cursive.

Nyansa 09-29-15 SWR Begin Draw Letter a

Danielle demonstrates the beginning stroke of cursive letter “a”.

NYansa 09-25-15 Finish Draw Letter a

Danielle displays the completed letter “a” as students continue to practice air-writing the letter.

Nyansa 09-25-15 SWR Danny Does Letter a

Student shows his first cursive “a”.

Nyansa 09-25-15 SWR Erica Practices Letter a

Intern Liza assists a student with cursive letter “a”.

Nyansa 09-25-15 Keneisha Practices Letter a

Student demonstrates her first cursive “a”.

Nyansa 09-25-15 SWR Childrens Names in Cursive

Danielle demonstrates the beauty of teacher and student names written in cursive.