By Camile Earle-Dennis, Regional Instructional Coach – South

As the year ends for our AmeriCorps Members and they prepare for Leadership After City Year, one thing is certain - they are empowered and better prepared to embrace the next chapter in their lives because of the positive impact they have made on students as well as the positive impact that students and staff have made on them.

 I’ve recently started serving as City Year's Regional Instructional Coach for our Southern region. Since my start, I have had the honor of visiting our Southern sites where I've witnessed AmeriCorps Members providing powerful service in our schools through teamwork and collaboration.

In Miami, I witnessed teachers and AmeriCorps Members working together in a classroom as students prepared for a debate. Teachers intentionally used we and our in an effort to purposefully include AmeriCorps Members into their students’ learning environments. I also joined morning circle alongside security guards who recited our pledge and participated in Morning Greeting  to start their day the City Year way. These demonstrations of inclusivity serve to reinforce for AmeriCorps Members that differences can be held as strengths that can help them to achieve their goals - a beneficial value to embrace in all settings: home, school, community, or workplace. 

Employers and organizations look for employees that have a proven track record of accomplishment, and know how to positively impact the culture of their workplace. Our AmeriCorps Members do so daily. In Orlando, AmeriCorps Members infused an infectious energy into their school cultures. In the schools we visited, principals and school staff raved about AmeriCorps' presence and how they are positively impacting school culture and performance. And in Columbia, South Carolina AmeriCorps Members wear their red jackets with pride and relay the City Year spirit that our uniform brings to their walk and talk.

In Jacksonville, Florida we engaged in school walkthroughs where we witnessed site staff and AmeriCorps Members in action working with students on Algebraic equations and teaching mini-lessons during a high school after school program. We spoke with students who all shared how much they were benefitting from the afterschool program and having AmeriCorps Members in their school. Students who were failing their Algebra classes in the fall, now had A’s and B’s. While in Little Rock, Arkansas murals, inspirational quotes painted on hallway walls, and vegetable gardens reflected a few of the contributions AmeriCorps Members had on their schools and their students. AmeriCorps Members excitedly shared success stories of student transformation and their own transformations. They all agree: City Year has changed their lives for the better! 

These examples illustrate that the City Year culture, values, and service empower AmeriCorps Members with a mindset and skillset to continue to navigate successfully their life journeys. Our tag line states “make better happen” and City Year alumni are doing just that. Whether they’re continuing their own studies, starting a professional career, or even founding their own movements, AmeriCorps Members are continuing on as the service ambassadors and idealists we assured them they’d be.

As we close out our year with AmeriCorps graduations, we take this opportunity to thank City Year staff and AmeriCorps Members for their passionate dedication and service to our students and communities. You have made a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and we know you will continue to impact your communities in whatever capacity you serve. Thank you for your continued service! 

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