Last February, in the thick of a strenuous first year at the Linden-McKinley STEM Academy, I applied for two Senior Corps positions with City Year Columbus: Team Leader and Training Project Leader.
This February, in the thick of a strenuous second year at the same school, I’m both things— maybe the first Training Team Project Leader in CYCO history.
Things weren’t supposed to happen this way. I was offered the Team Leader Position at Linden McKinley due to team needs. Not exactly the best circumstances for a change… but, hey, City Year is always ready, right? (I think I’ve said that in every blog.) I saw that I had been given a gift that few Corps Members receive— the chance to lead in almost every aspect of the Corps experience. And though I was nervous about the transition, I was eager to interact with a team on a regular basis, and looking forward to using last year’s lessons on this year’s challenges.
I’m lucky in this sense, too: I get to watch my kids grow up. Last year’s 7th graders, the boys especially, are bigger and gruffer this year. I hesitate to use the word “mature” to describe the 8th grade— they still talk about my girlfriend leaving me for a lemur (long story)— but there has been a kind of evolution, and much of that change has been positive. Students who did nothing but wander and whine last year are now focused and committed to success. Kids still want to talk to me about, let’s just say, inappropriate things… but they also want to do well. If the overall environment at Linden-McKinley is not yet completely conducive to learning, it seems to be taking signifcant steps in that direction.
This phenomenon is not a miracle. It’s a ripple. My team last year did great work, and my team this year is doing them one better: their focus lists are larger; their after school program more comprehensive; their outreach initiatives and school-wide incentives more ambitious. I’m sure the other LMSA bloggers will have plenty to tell you in the next couple of months… if not, they’re just being modest. The fact is this: our Panthers know what City Year is here to do, and they’re growing and learning because of it.