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.

Pierre Lucien

First year Corps Member, the CSX team at South High School


UPCOMING: Global Youth Service Day

GYSD collage

Hey Idealists!

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

Pushing Through

concrete flower

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?

no pain no gain

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:

  1. Become aware of those things that you have influence over, and place your emphasis and focus on the things that you have control over.
  2. 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.
  3. Of course humor, dance, and music will always get you by. Studies show that listening to slow music decreases blood pressure (
  4. 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.
  5. Hone in on ways to relieve stress (i.e. lighting candles, taking baths, drinking chamomile tea, sleeping with lavender scents)
  6. 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

Life Before Morning Circle

7 ways to make the most of your morning


By 6:45am, City Year corps members are ready to serve with an open mind, positive can-do, and a soul generated by love. But life before 6:45 can be rough. Fortunately, there are things we can do to prime ourselves for a more powerful, more enjoyable day of service.

1. Prepare beforehand.


Cut down on the amount of time you need in the morning by taking care of business before you go to bed. You can wake up to a prepared lunch ready to go from the fridge, and even a prepared breakfast (you can cook oatmeal overnight in a crockpot, for example). Take a few extra minutes in the morning to grind your coffee, pack your backpack, and press you pants (you do press your pants, right?). This step will free up time for some extra sleep, or the time you’ll need to implement these other helpful tips.

2. Set an alarm that works for you.


Some people need to be gently roused from sleep by soft, bright music like subtle rays of sonic sunshine. Others need an air raid siren without a snooze button. Experiment to find a system that gets you up best so you can be awake on time and in a good mood.

3. Hydrate!


Hydrogen hydroxide is the best substance to wake up your mind and body. The caffeine in coffee will have a stimulant effect on your brain, but coffee dehydrates the body and can make a morning even more difficult. Whether you drink coffee or not, water is essential to life, especially life before morning circle!

4. Get loose!


Cats stretch every day because cats know things. We could learn a lot from cats. Stretching is a great way to wake up more fully. You can up the ante by doing some calisthenics, or go varsity by making it to the gym before service (your team will be impressed).

5. Get Centered.


Mental and spiritual health are important aspects of self-care. Take a few minutes each morning to pray or meditate. Pausing to breathe and know where and how you exist can make a big difference in your disposition, giving you a foundation for confidence.

6. Eat Breakfast.


Cars and buses don’t run without fuel. Bodies and minds don’t either. Nobody’s got the time or metabolism for eggs benedict every day, but breakfast should be a priority. Find something quick and delicious, make a healthy smoothie to go, or refer back to point 1.

7. Get the sleep you need.


Bedtimes aren’t just for kids. Setting a hard deadline to be in bed can be part of a healthy adult rhythm. Take a minute to think about how much rest you need and make that rest a priority. This might involve some sacrifice, but being well-rested will help keep you healthy, productive and positive.

— Ben Jenkins, first year corps member at Mifflin Middle School

Survival Kit

Hey Corps Members! How you feelin’?

At this point, those of you reading this probably half-heartedly mumbled “fired up” while you rubbed your hands together for warmth.

It’s February. It’s cold. You’re tired. Maybe you just got interim grades that were not particularly inspiring. 6:45 seems earlier and earlier in the morning each time the alarm goes off. I get it. Believe me, I do!

But as a second year corps member, I am here to tell you, promise you, that it is going to get better. You may be suffering from a seasonal disorder known as the City Year Flu (Which is occasionally accompanied by an actual flu. Feel better, guys.), but all is not lost! Here are the eight things you need to survive the winter doldrums.

1. Marbles
photo by Sahlan Hayes

Some people are going to accuse you of having lost them. Prove them wrong no matter what by keeping them on you at all times!

2. Vitamin D
photo by Changing for Health

On a serious note, we really don’t see the sun that much. It hasn’t woken up yet when we head to service, and then we kind of wave at it on the drive home. It’s important to remember that being in the dark really does affect your mood, and take steps to stay healthy.
3. Stickers
photo by Amy Dell

These are a reminder to stick to your goals. They’re also fun. Seriously, put an Angry Birds sticker on your Check-In/Check-Out tracker when a student met the weekly goal and they’ll go nuts.

4. Tea
product from FoodBeast

I am not a coffee drinker, but I am a huge advocate for tea. It tastes great, comes in all different flavors and is great for sore throats and your mood!

5. An Eraser
photo by Kalin Plante
To wipe away your mistakes.

6. White out
Because let’s be honest, sometimes you make the above mistakes in pen and an eraser won’t cut it.
7. Something to look forward to.
photo by Kid President
Expecting a gift or being excited for something has a positive effect on your mood. Don’t have your boots yet? They’re coming! It’ll be like a present!

8. Tissues
photo by Peaceful Parent
Keep these on hand to wipe away your students’ tears.

Or yours.

… Mostly yours.
-Mirria Martin, second year corps member at Mifflin HIgh School

MLK and our Students

Image by National Geographic

As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and commemorate his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in our schools this month and next, let’s not miss the opportunity to educate students on his purpose and the meaning of his speech– Freedom, justice, and equality. Hearing recordings and seeing videos may simply not be enough for our younger students, who are very much out of touch with the reality that was segregation in the United States just decades ago. While we know that many students can recite phrases, if not paragraphs, from the speech, let’s ensure that they also get Dr. King’s gist of fairness and togetherness. Although the specific issues Dr. King sought to combat may not be as overt today, civil rights issues persist as civil liberties are still being denied every day in the United States. Facilitated discussions and guided reflections following readings and viewings of the speech could really help students process and make meaning of the words. Only then can they apply the message to contemporary civil rights issues and contribute to the comprehensive fulfillment of Dr. King’s notarial dream.

— Pierre Lucien, first year corps member of the ATT Team at South High School

Every Day

PITW #159: This is hard.
Be strong.

Five months into my service, it’s safe to say that City Year is one the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Every day I wake up and go to Linden McKinley STEM Academy (LMSA) and follow my cohort of 9th graders from class to class. Power greeting, attendance check-ins, push-ins, pull-outs, tracking data, every day has the same premise, but every day is a little different. Every day has its own trials and tribulations. Every day has its own silver lining.

I’m sure most of the corps would agree that sometimes there are days when PITW #159 rings especially true. Nearly halfway through our service year, we’ve all seen a lot, learned a bunch, and felt the crushing pressure of trying to help our students however we can.

I’m writing today to talk about the second part of this PITW, “be strong”. Seems easier said than done sometimes. One of the things that helps me stay strong is thinking back to why I decided to join City Year in the first place. My personal motivations came from my desire to work in a school with students and I wanted to do something to help my adopted Columbus community.

When I think about my service from that perspective, I can see that I’ve met and exceeded these initial goals by a landslide. Every day I wake up and go to a school. Every day I help my students. I’ve met so many wonderful people from the LMSA and greater Linden community. It warms my heart to think that I have the privilege of making a difference here. Though I may never see the cathedral that we’re building, I am so glad both to be a part of building it and to get to know the other people working on it.

Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective to realize that, though there’s much to get done and the greater mission is so critically important, just being part of the process is amazing. It’s easier to be strong when you know it’s all worth it in the end.

— Darcy McCarthy, First year Corps Member of the ATT Team at Linden-McKinley STEM Academy