Written by Katie Harris, AmeriCorps Member serving at Merrydale Elementary School

When signing on to be an AmeriCorps member, I could not have anticipated the magnitude of emotions I feel on an average day. The work we do, noble as it is, can be very difficult and often evoke a tremendous amount of emotional and mental toil. This creates the need for a strong, empathetic support system. In my own team at Merrydale Elementary School, I have found exactly this. We are a real team, like the kind you see in movies. The Justice League of Merrydale, avengers of the children. We cry together, laugh together, and cheer on each other’s goals and dreams. I can honestly say that I would not be as successful in this experience without my incredible teammates.  

Moreover, students would not be nearly as successful without the presence of their City Year team. It is no mistake that City Year encourages its members to amplify teamwork through idealisms such as PITW #118: “Learn when to ask for help, advice and resources.” and PITW #149: “Be careful to avoid becoming isolated within the organization.” We demonstrate these mantras daily, collaborating with and relying on our teams so that our students learn to do the same with their peers. They are always watching and looking up to us, witnessing firsthand a group of people working together towards a common goal or talking about a moment where everyone pitched in to get the job done. They see exchanges of high fives and hugs as we pass each other in the hallways. More importantly, they see us resolving our issues peacefully, rather than resorting to violence and negative words. We see kids reflecting these philosophies daily. In my third grade class, I will often look over and witness students helping their struggling classmate finish an assignment, offering help to someone in need, choosing to forgive their classmate instead of active retribution, or taking initiative to include a peer on a project. These moments are some of the most rewarding in this experience, ones that I am eternally grateful for.

We are blessed with the opportunity to demonstrate these positive behaviors for our students, teaching them collaborative skills that will help them soar in school and life. As we always say at Merrydale: “Teamwork makes dreams work.” We’ve learned in the last five months that no one achieves anything alone, and succeeding with your team is always a sweeter victory than succeeding alone. Why not teach our students the same pathway to success? 

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