Wow ! First day of the MLK Civil Rights Heritage Tour. Amazing time with my students. #makebetterhappen
There could not be a better word to describe this time of the year for corps members than bittersweet. The beginning of the fourth marking period comes with much excitement as it signifies that the year of service, which brought many unforeseen challenges and difficulties, is coming to a close. However, we soon come to the realization that the end of the year also means saying goodbye to our students, teachers, and teams. Even those who found aspects of the experience challenging still formed connections and built relationships in their communities and schools. Saying goodbye is just not easy. Let’s not dwell on the perspective that those relationships are over– Let’s rejoice with the perspective that we were fortunate enough to build them.
First year Corps Member, the CSX team at South High School
Remember to join CYCO for Global Youth Service Day on Saturday, April 12th.
Maybe you’re a young person looking to serve. Maybe you’re an incoming corps member looking for a way to get involved early. Maybe you’re a student and need something to flesh out your resume. No matter the circumstances, Global Youth Service Day is the place to be!
CYCO will host two service opportunities:
10am-1pm, Beautification of Mifflin Middle School
3000 Agler Rd, Columbus, OH 43219
10am-2pm, Clean Up of Linden McKinley STEM Academy
1320 Duxberry Ave, Columbus, OH 43211
I do it for the kids.
I recently attended a final interview for a teacher preparation program. I drove 7 hours, post Pi Day event, all the way to D.C. for a chance at becoming one of the most skilled teachers in the country. Something I heard during the question and answer segment of my interview has been on my mind ever since.
One of the current residents said that if you think you’re going to be a hero, and save all of these kids, then you need to reevaluate your motivations for pursuing a career in urban education. The words struck me as harsh but exceedingly true.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I do what I do with City Year for my students. I care deeply about each and every one of them. City Year is tough. This year has pushed me to my limits, but each time I want to give up, I think about the faces of the kids I work with. I come to school to watch them progress and to have the honor of being a support for their growth.
I do not see myself as a savior. I am not a hero. My students are heroes. My students are the most amazing people I’ve ever met. They inspire me, and though I tutor and mentor them, they teach me so much. So when I reflect on the words I heard at this interview, I find myself double checking my values and my motivations.
The state of education, in general, is in desperate need of reform. Low income, underserved, disadvantaged, urban schools in particular need change. I believe that education is a right and that every child, no matter where they come from, deserves a quality education. I believe that change in a community comes from within.
I think about City Year and our ability to partner with members of community and community organizations to create sustainable change. I can only speak for myself, but I am not swooping into Linden on a white horse. That isn’t what anyone needs. My kids don’t need to be saved. No, I am a very small cog in the immense mechanical organism of change. I form relationships, help raise some grades and test scores, and hopefully make school a better place for my kids. Maybe they’ll remember me when they’re older, maybe they won’t. But they will never forget the diploma they get 4 years from now.
Darcy McCarthy, first year Corps Member, the AT&T team at Linden McKinley STEM Academy
The final 2 months of our 10 month commitment are among us. And as I begin to interact and converse with many corps members, I cannot help but to notice the mental state that we are all in—tired, apathetic, and mentally distraught. The City Year journey tells us that the storming phase usually happens around November through January, but what are we to do when it comes in March? What are we to do when apathy has dried up every ounce of idealism in our bones? What are we to do when there seems like there is no end to this storm?
I can honestly say that the storm never truly ends, especially when discussing the nation’s drop out crisis. The intensity of the storm changes, which we cannot control; but some days will be easier than others. I have noticed that perspective is a crucial piece in our mental state throughout this journey and that the way we react to the storm is the key to success. Here are a few concrete ways for you to keep things in perspective as we sprint this homestretch:
- Become aware of those things that you have influence over, and place your emphasis and focus on the things that you have control over.
- When you are in the midst of a power struggle with your students, focus on how your body reacts and consciously take slow, deep breaths—or better yet, walk away.
- Of course humor, dance, and music will always get you by. Studies show that listening to slow music decreases blood pressure (http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/514644_6).
- And we cannot forget food! Coordinate one day out of the month for a team potluck lunch. Place a theme around each potluck and play into it.
- Hone in on ways to relieve stress (i.e. lighting candles, taking baths, drinking chamomile tea, sleeping with lavender scents)
- Keep your eye on the prize! Student success, City Year Graduation, and that Segal Education Award.
–Tamar Carr, second year Team Leader, Chase Team at Mifflin High School
Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is a month away! And man, I am excited! Why am I excited? Because the Mifflin Middle School and Mifflin High School teams will be coming together to do various beautification projects here at Mifflin MS. We’re going to paint murals that students have designed, paint inspirational quotes on the walls, and plant a garden! This past Thursday, students here at MMS were able to plant seeds for various fruits and vegetables that are going to be in the garden. It was a great activity for students to see where plants come from– “Wait, this is going to be a watermelon?”– as well as a fun way to engage our afterschool students. We have the seeds growing in our City Year space and second year corps member Edward Plumb will be working with a group of students to monitor their growth. Overall it was a great kick off to GYSD!
— Zandra Casto, Team Leader at Mifflin Middle School