Christina Stuart, AmeriCorps member serving at Curley K-8 School

So far this year, I have worn my red jacket with pride, high-fived many hands, and learned many names. I have committed to a life of service while being a presence and role model in the school I serve. I am serving with the first City Year team at the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain. As this is a first-year partnership, many teachers, staff, students, and parents have not had many interactions with City Year. It not unusual for me to explain my role to others who may be unfamiliar with the organization.

The task of being on a team with a new partnership can be a large responsibility. My team’s service is like a long process of "cathedral building," and we are laying the foundation for future City Year teams at the school to continue our service. When talking with the leadership of my team (my program manager and team leaders), they explained how this year holds a lot of responsibility and it is a big transition. “It takes time for systems to get up and running, and it is an adjustment for an entire school to gain a new team of support.” As we set the tone for future teams and establish these norms and structures for them to build upon, I want the students of our school to know that when they see a red jacket, they see somebody who will support them.

With this in mind, my teammates and I focus on building relationships with the school community. When I engage students, I want them to know that there are many others wearing the red jacket and watch them make connections to their own day-to-day interactions with the City Year AmeriCorps members in their classrooms. When my teammates and I meet with teachers, staff, and community members, we constantly seek ways support them and leave positive impressions beyond our year of service.

Thanks to the help of my service team’s leadership, I have both learned and gained a different perspective of my year of service. If this year is going to be tough, I am ready for it. As a team, we are confident that we will overcome all future obstacles with maturity, patience and positivity. As we lay these first impactful stones of this “cathedral of service,” it is my goal that, by the end of my service year, others will not only see City Year’s presence as nice, but also necessary.

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