We Can Do It

cat out of bed

Question: Am I the only one ready to dip out on City Year? 10 months didn’t seem like much as I was signing the papers in the beginning– But ever since we’ve returned from break, I’ve been ready to drop my red gear off at the office and throw up the deuces.

I’m not sure what it is, but it is becoming extremely difficult for me to get out of bed each morning, much less have energy to do boots and shoes (with a smile on my face and a heart full of grace). You know it’s bad when corps members from other schools are texting you to make sure that you’re up and ready to serve (shout out to Marvin and Mariah for that).

tired cat

I’ve been told that some corps members don’t return after the holiday break and I can truly see why. The hours are long, leaving you with not much energy (and daylight savings doesn’t help). Most of the time you feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall, not only with students and failing grades, but with teachers, administration, and policies (you’d think this would change after five months, but nope). So much is asked of you, and you really begin questioning yourself, your abilities, and your drive. Most of all, you ask why you decided to give a year to serve in a school.

I believe that my perspective is different from other corps members because I’m slated to start Teach For America in June. I have been feeling discouraged and second guessing my ability to change lives and make a difference through education based on my City Year struggles. I only have a few months left to put a dent in goals that I have for myself, my students, and the school.


Last year, when I accepted offers from both TFA and CY, I just knew the next three years of my life would be set… But now I catch myself thinking about a change. Last week I went on about four different walk-and-talks with teachers and administrators just to talk about where I am and where I want to be. One thing I can say is that I have a great support system with the staff at my school. They allow me to come in their classroom to go in and let have. They deal with what I deal with on a daily basis and face what I will face in Mississippi with Teach For America.

The other day, I told one of my students how I was feeling and he told me that he would’ve dropped out if I hadn’t been there to motivate him. A senior came up to me in the hall today and asked me to help her study for her ACT test. I’m reminded why I’m at Mifflin and the importance of what I do and my drive to do it. I’m there to inspire, but there are times when I need inspiration too. I’m not one to just give up on anything, but man I’ve been feeling it lately. I know that we are the most consistent people in most of our students’ lives and we will only let them down if we leave unexpectedly. These next five months will truly be a challenge for me to get through, but my students are my inspiration.

— Virginia Ivey, first year corps member of the Chase Team at Mifflin High School


Welcome to South

I proudly serve at South High School, one of the three high schools City Year partners with in Columbus. We are located in a neighborhood where some of the houses are boarded up and some of the streets have patches of weeds instead of sidewalks. But our school is a beautiful old brick building with big windows and gleaming red floors (I’m not kidding– they actually gleam).

The students have pride in their school and the graduation rate improved over the past year since City Year and Diplomas Now became involved. Our work is not over yet, however. Every morning at precisely 7 AM, twelve twenty-something-year-olds in red jackets form two lines outside of the main doorway to the school. As the students stream in to get breakfast in the cafeteria, we cheer “Good morning!” and hope our silly antics will make the students smile.

The twelve of us hail from diverse backgrounds: we’re from California and Colorado and Haiti and Ohio, we majored in politics and biology and English and teaching, and we have a wide variety of religious beliefs and dance moves. However despite our differences, we form a strong team, tossing around ideas, lending each other moral support, and making each other laugh throughout the day.

Each of the corps members travels with a cohort of 20 to 30 ninth or tenth graders, and we spend almost all day with our group. I know all my students well; I can draw connections between classes for them, I check in with each student a few times throughout the day, and I know exactly who could use a reminder to capitalize their proper nouns or get started on their math warm-up. Often corps member will sit down with a group of two or three students to work with throughout a period, ensuring that the teenagers get to work at their own pace.

The City Year team also prepares whole school events. So far we have had one in-school dance per month, with food and music in the cafeteria. Each subsequent dance has stricter admissions requirements; the Halloween dance (which is tonight!) will require the students to have two D’s and one suspension at worst. Our after school choir program, the South High Harmony Project, recently performed at the President’s Cup, and more performances will follow in December. We held a blood drive and planned a community open house, Welcome to South Night, for parents and community members.

Welcome to South Night featured a performance with the student band and cheerleaders, a step dancer, a student beat boxer, and a praise dance performance by one of our own corps members! The events don’t stop now, though. This Thursday we will host Trunk or Treat, a Halloween celebration with trick or treating inside the school. For November, we have planned a week long competition between cohorts to see which group can answer the most math warm-ups correctly. Additionally, we are designing an English event for December…more details and excitement to come!

–Cora Henry, first year Corps Member of the CSX Team at South High School

Embarking on the Journey

Idealists are we who see all challenges and embark on a journey of change

Changing the views of our world and those that live within it, the possibilities are endless and plenty

Small, but mighty are we who come from the lowest of valleys

Yet soon we will flourish and bound to the highest of mountains

Amounting to an inconceivable standard of great leadership and power,

Guiding the future idealists that will soon be left to blossom

PITW #122: Seek both to be an outstanding leader and follower

You have been called to leadership and your time is now

So get on your way, because the end is both near and far

–Tamar Carr, Senior Corps Member, of the Chase Team at Mifflin High School