By: Christine Olding
A few weeks ago I started doing this lunch group on Thursdays with six, 6th grade girls. It was supposed to be a chance for them to talk about a variety of topics that they didn’t feel comfortable talking about with anyone else (health issues to boyfriends and everything in between). I was unsure exactly how it would go over because let’s just say I was not the favorite person among the 6th grade girls.
When I first started this experience I was known by many of the students as the “mean” one due to my strict disciplinarian structure. However, in the past few months I have begun to develop relationships with these girls in ways I, honestly, never thought imaginable. I get hugs and jokes on a daily basis and am constantly asked questions about my love life (something I find pretty hysterical). So, when I was asked to do this group, I was excited and nervous on what exactly would happen given our rocky road.
The group is set up like this: they go grab their lunch and come to a classroom where I am awaiting their arrival. During our first meeting we came up with 10 topics that would be discussed. Each week we talk about a different topic. I present the topic of the week and open the floor each time stating that it is a safe space and whatever is said between these walls will never leave these walls. I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability and hope for the best.
I was amazed by the girls willingness to share and ask questions that I knew were hard for them to discuss. They are 100% open to what I have to say and what each other have to say. It is my chance to show them a different perspective on the issues that plague them. It is my chance to say” hey, I remember being in the 6th grade and I remember how much it sucked at times. So, here are some things to help you get through it.” Each week, I make a point to let them know that each of them is important, beautiful, smart and loved. (Something I know that they rarely hear). It is my hope that they will truly listen to those words and believe them because all I want for them is to believe in themselves and each other, like how I believe in each one of them.
By: Melissa Santiago
A typical day at an after school program in each of City Year Columbus’ schools will look entirely different from one to the other. At Weinland Park Elementary, we’re fortunate enough to have a vital partnership with the Godman Guild. A community center in close proximity to our school, the Godman Guild, has been serving the central Ohio area since 1898 and has partnered with City Year for about 6 years to create a daily after school program for elementary school students called A.C.E.S., which stands for After School Program through Community Leaders, Educators, and Students. After school at Weinland Park is very structured with a regular schedule of homework help and snack time, followed by lesson plans which are individualized by grade level. City Year specifically works with students 3-5 because these are our “target” grades, or part of the most critical time period for helping students get on track towards high school graduation.
Every Wednesday after school turns into Starfish Corps, which consists of lesson plans and activities created by City Year. Students engage in activities that are centered on civic engagement, environment, peace in the community and health choices.
This week in after school students learned about team building and participated in a number of games that helped ingrain this principle. Within grade levels students worked as a team to accomplish fun tasks and played games that require communication and teamwork (both of which my third graders seem to struggle with regularly). The kids learned lessons in listening to their classmates and working together. We also had a visit from the Columbus Zoo this week and the kids got a chance to learn about and meet different animals- like Maddie the Flamingo, Ruby the Glass Lizard, an opossum, a boa and more. Like the zoo, many visits to after school from outside organizations are funded by grants. The Center for Science and Industry (COSI) visited Weinland Park third graders after school and taught a lesson in aerodynamics. Students created their own paper planes and ran experiments flying them to see what variables would make them fly a further distance. Students played with weights, clips, and different folding techniques to tweak their planes in 12 different trials over the span of 3 weeks. Making hypotheses, tracking data, and drawing conclusions was a great way for them to practice the scientific method. For the majority of students at the school, admission to educational and fun places like the zoo and science museum is something they cannot afford. After school helps bridge this gap when possible by bringing these places to the students for free. Every week after school provides enrichment clubs and activities that the kids would probably not otherwise be exposed to. My role in after school as a City Year corps member is vital in helping create a positive learning environment after school and helping provide resources to students that will enhance their education.
By: Roosevelt Williams
This is the pledge our After-School Heroes said during Opening Day ceremonies at Linden McKinley STEM Academy. Crystal McDonald and I were sitting around thinking of a pledge for our heroes, and it clicked, “why don’t we modify the City Year pledge?” So after some brainstorming I give you the brand new After-School Heroes Pledge.
AFTER-SCHOOL HEROES PLEDGE
I pledge to serve as an After-School Hero
To honor the rules and expectations of After-School Heroes
To complete my homework and engage in civic leadership
To lead as I am following
To be kind and courteous to one another
Realizing that we are all connected
And I succeed only when my fellow Heroes succeed
I pledge to serve to not only make a difference in my community
But be the change in the world I wish to see
I am an After-School hero and I will
Learn, Lead and Transform