By Catherine Campos, City Year Jacksonville AmeriCorps member




I’ve been hearing the phrase ‘clean slate’ a lot over the summer. As I started my second year of service, this time as a Team Leader, the possibility of serving at a new school, one that was a  brand new partnership for City Year, was at the forefront of my mind. I would have loved to return to familiar high-schooler’s, administration, teachers and building but City Year likes to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone.

I was assigned to a new middle school with an Impact Manager who was new to City Year as well.  Within a month’s time, a team new to City Year would be joining us as well. Everyone assured me it was a great opportunity to start fresh and bring everything I learned last year to both my new team and this partnership. I felt nervous and I wondered if I can do it.

The first thing I had to do was ground myself by remembering why I decided to serve in the first place. I hope to be an advocate for education just like my parents were, and still are, for me. As a first generation college student, I was graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Theater and Sociology because of my parent’s support. I want to be that support for a student who dreams of going to college but isn’t sure  how to get there.

I also realized that by serving a second year, I would be helping ten other AmeriCorps members be advocates for education, who  can in turn reach more students than just I could reach.

City Year is a team effort and that is what makes our organization unique. Everyone has a role and everyone has their strengths. No one is actually a clean slate because we always carry  our experiences and histories. Both should be celebrated.

As we began planning and building our new school partnership. I wondered about how the faculty and staff would react to a group of people all dressed the same, chanting songs in the mornings, and supporting  classrooms. As before, my worries were unfounded. The middle school is filled with some of the most welcoming, hardworking and funniest faculty and staff I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. They accepted us with open hearts and open minds and easily integrated us into their classrooms.

I do miss the school that I served last year. I miss the students and staff. I  miss my old team but  I also love my new team and community as well. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t know what the rest of the year has in store for me, but whatever curve ball comes my way, I will take it on with my team.


Enjoy reading this post? You might also like:

-Hope for the year: An Open Letter to Learners

-Why I Serve

-10 things you should know before you apply to City Year


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