Student Org Leader Spotlight: Conner Gilbert, Page One Literacy

Leaders of Page One Literacy, from left to right: Conner Gilbert ’19 (President and Treasurer), Claiborne Beary ’20 (Programs Coordinator), Lily Massaro ’19 (Webmaster and Publicity Coordinator), and Mari Odoy ’20 (One-time Events Coordinator)

Page One Literacy is an organization that aims to foster a love for reading and enthusiasm for learning among students at local Addison County elementary schools. Through weekly reading programs and special one-time community events, Page One hopes to help children find a creative outlet and improve their comprehension skills while providing Middlebury students the opportunity to venture outside the campus to forge strong, positive connections with the Middlebury community. For more information on Page One, click here.

Below is an interview with Conner Gilbert ’19, the president & treasurer of Page One:

Why should folks join Page One? What will they take away from the experience? 

Aside from the obvious experiences of meeting new people, escaping campus each week, and rereading your favorite books of your youth, I think one of the clearest lessons that I have learned is that there is so much beyond the confides of the Middlebury campus. As a student body, we truly have the power to make a lasting impact by sharing our passion and experience with individuals in the community. As we often get trapped in our Middlebury bubble, it is truly refreshing to escape for an hour a week and make an impact for children in the community.

Why did you first join Page One?

Throughout high school, I ran the tutoring services for a local low income after school program in my hometown. My six hours every week at the center was genuinely the highlight of my week. After talking with one of my friends about my experiences with this, she encouraged me to join Page One. From there on out I was hooked. Starting as a member, I have since served as Programs Coordinator, Treasurer, and most recently my role as President, a role I plan to stay in for the rest of my Middlebury career.

What has been your most memorable experience as a member of Page One?

While I have had so many memorable experiences, one of my most treasured was during my first semester with Page One when I was working with a group of five students. For the first session, the students were clearly not excited however each session I watched them become more excited about reading. It was at the moment that I realized that we were making a difference and showing that reading is truly valuable and not just a chore in life.

What have you learned, either about yourself or the world around you, as a member of Page One?

While I have seen myself grow so much as an individual during my time with Page One, I think learning the importance of diligence and passion have had the starkest impact on my life. Our work as an organization is not always easy and it requires immense work on the part of our volunteers, board, and community partners as we constantly look to grow, improve, and reorganize to make sure that we are making the largest impact possible. While I have watched our organization improve immensely, our work will never be done and that’s okay. Most people fail to recognize how much work a successful service organization is to manage however it is all worth it when the results are seen. Coming together with a shared common goal and a dedication to children can bring about some pretty awesome results.

Where are you from and what’s your major? What other activities are you involved with on campus? 

I am from Georgia, VT and major in Environmental Economics. I am also a board member for MiddCAM and serve as a Community Assistant for Atwater Commons.

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