School in Bayside uses teleconferencing tool

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A guest lecturer from Cleveland helped to teach a group of eighth-graders at the Bell Academy in Bayside about the history of one of the borough’s most famous poets and she did not even have to set foot in the classroom.

The students held a special videoconference session with a representative from the Cleveland Institute of Music and talked about the works of Langston Hughes. Hughes, a Harlem resident, had written several poems inspired by the trials and tribulations black Americans faced during the late-19th century and early 20th century.

“It’s an interactive lesson directly with the institute,” Cheryl Hatzidimitriou, the principal of Bell Academy at 18-25 212th St., said.

The institute’s representative, Nadia Tarnaqsky, was able to play videos featuring actors from her group who recited some of the artist’s poems. After each performance, she discussed the meanings and morals of the pieces with the students.

With the help of sophisticated camera and Internet equipment, Tarnaqsky was able to see the students raise their hands and hear their questions.

Borough President Helen Marshall, who witnessed some of the lesson, was also impressed with the technology.

“TV is talking back. How wonderful!” she said.

Marshall, in return, gave the guest lecturer a lesson on Hughes, informing her about the Langston Hughes library branch that was named in his honor. The borough president said she was so taken with the interactive lesson that she presented Bell Academy with a $35,000 city grant to equip more classrooms with teleconferencing tools.

“This is a great venture in education,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 5:55 pm, October 10, 2011
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