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


I do it for the kids

I do it for the kids.

 Superheroes of Victoria

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





Discovering Ubuntu

Erica Pence and Corps at Basic Training Retreat

Erica Pence and Corps at Basic Training Retreat

The unfortunate passing of Nelson Mandela led me on a journey of discovery about this amazing individual’s life. I have always admired Mandela, specifically his insight concerning social issues. City Year tackles the social issue of education. At the beginning of our year of service, we establish “I Serve” statements that summarize why we decided to dedicate a year to national service. My “I serve” statement is about the power of Ubuntu. Ubuntu, a term borrowed from the Zulu tribe of South Africa, means “I am a person through other people; my humanity is tied to yours.”

The theory conveys an indispensable spiritual certainty about the world: We are all connected to each other through invisible webs of interdependence. We share a collective world and a mutual purpose, and the small struggles of the few effect the population as a whole. I believe that the power of interdependence can truly change the world. However, we must get past the basic barriers that hold us back from being one humanity; race, religion, etc. Practicing cultural humility is essential for our own awareness of the world and ethnic education.

As stated in Mandela’s autobiography, he believes that “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Mandela proved this web of interdependence and love when he held a conference on Civil Society in Cape Town in 2001. Mandela extended an invitation to Clinton, who accepted and brought along a delegation from the US, which included representatives from City Year Inc. From this, City Year South Africa was established in 2005. This is a concept I am trying to engrave into my work with students. Most students have preconceived feelings towards certain cultures, which is only holding them back from genuine appreciation of the world around them. If I can open up that barrier of acceptance, there are countless possibilities to what they can achieve.

— Erica Pence, first year corps member

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