Alex Owens served both as an AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader with City Year Los Angeles. Alex currently serves as the Registration Coordinator for the 2015 Summer Academy Team. Alex studied Mathematics at UC Riverside (go Highlanders!), and was drawn to this particular position on the Summer Academy team because it gives him the opportunity to use some of the more technical skills he acquired in his undergrad experience while staying true to his passion – social justice and education.  Alex shared with us his thoughts on City Year’s Summer Academy and what Idealism in Education means to him.

As a rising Senior AmeriCorps Member, Summer Academy was a truly inspiring event -- the ultimate fuel for a powerful year of service. It helped me feel grounded in the work that we do and connected to the thousands of other young people I serve alongside with, in this country and the world. I was drawn to the opportunity to serve on the Summer Academy 2015 team because I wanted to play a part in providing that same experience to staff and Senior AmeriCorps Members. Working in schools and witnessing our impact is a rewarding experience within itself, but knowing that I am contributing to an event that will inform and empower that same impact across the nation is even more amazing.

As Summer Academy 2015 approaches, our team’s energy is growing and the excitement is infectious. From exciting new developments in the model of City Year’s work to best practice sharing around student success to the massive variety of icebreakers and teambuilders, we all leave Academy equipped with new tools to rejuvenate our sites and improve on the incredible work that we all already do. The opportunity to come together and unpack this year’s Academy theme, Idealism in Education, is essential to the work that we do at City Year. In our ever-changing education system, full of unique challenges, City Year serves as a reminder that student success is the paramount goal. Despite the obstacles faced by students, teachers, and school staff around the nation, our corps members understand that by believing in the power of young people and remaining aspirational in our goals, we can come together and achieve truly amazing results. Indeed, at the heart of idealism in education is the belief that our students can surmount the sometimes long odds they have stacked against them and empowering them to attain this belief within themselves.

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and seeing those connections being made between members of our network from all across the country.  The idea of ‘One City Year’ is something we talk about often at City Year, and can sometimes be difficult to realize at an individual site. Academy provides the unique opportunity to come together as One City Year -- it is impossible not to feel a strong sense of community between every other khaki-clad person while we are here. Although the Summer Academy Team staff are the architects of this event, but the most important ingredients are the participants. The experience is created by the tremendous energy and idealism our staff and Senior Corps bring, and I am truly thankful to have the opportunity to serve on a team that harnesses that energy and turns it into Summer Academy.


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