City Year Columbia FAQ’s

What is Columbia like?

Columbia, SC is a beautiful southern city with distinct neighborhoods.  The downtown area is full of restaurants, museums, hotels, nightlife and the campus of the University of South Carolina.  Columbia, SC has four distinct seasons.  Summer is humid and extremely hot, autumn is mild and cool as winter approaches, winter is chilly with the occasional snow/ice storm and spring is full of pollen.  Please check out our pinterest page  for things to do in Columbia.

What schools will we be in?

For the 2014-2015 school year we will be in Hyatt Park Elementary, Heyward Gibbes Middle and Sandhills Elementary.

How can I get around without a car?

Getting around Columbia without a car is tricky.  Please check out Columbia’s public transit to see if it meets your transportation needs.  Carpooling is great way to save on gas and get where you need to go quickly.

What should I expect on the first day?

On your first day, you should expect to be emerged in City Year culture and introduced to the CY Columbia team.  Be prepared to do some team builders!

What is life like after City Year?

Life after City Year is what you make it.  Some choose to apply for a second year corps member position (Team Leader), others decide to use their award to go back to school, while others join the workforce.


Commonly asked questions of current corps members

What are some of the general challenges during your service year? How do you cope?

At City Year, you typically work anywhere between 10-12 hours each day. Those are long days! Despite all of the awesome service you are doing, naturally those lengthy hours can catch up with you. Some days will be more challenging than others, but in those tough moments you’d find that leaning on your teammates is immensely beneficial and helpful in lifting up your spirits and rejuvenating you to finish the day strong. We are all going through the same experience day in and day out, so there is a level of empathy and understanding amongst us. You and your team make it a point at the end of each day to circle up with each other and share joys from the day. Ending on a positive note is what we prioritize before we leave the school.

At City Year, we are trained to troubleshoot and be solution-oriented. You will receive frequent feedback and resolutions when reaching out to your teammates and staff about challenges you face in your service whether it’s about life-work balance, a tough student, or meeting a deadline. It’s also important to remember to utilize your weekends to relax and reflect. You will do a lot of important and fulfilling work during the week, so finding time on the weekends to rest your body and mind will only get you ready for the next week ahead!

How does a teacher respond to having a corps member in their classroom? What is the working relationship between them?

Teachers are thrilled to have a corps member in their classroom! Oftentimes, teachers have classrooms filled with 20-30 students. Despite how amazing the teacher may be, you can imagine how difficult it is to reach every single student and ensure each one is receiving the help they need in order to excel. City Year corps members and teachers create a list of students (called a Focus List) and identify those students who will need to be tutored either one on one or in a small group setting during their Math and Literacy blocks. Students will receive the attention they need to meet their specific needs in the classroom by the corps member, who will additionally develop a near-peer rapport with the students which is shown to help keep them engaged and motivated to come to school.

Corps members are not teaching aids or assistant teachers. Corps members are supplement in-classroom near-peer resources who work in tandem with teachers to ensure every child in the classroom is receiving the academic and personal investment they require in order to develop. Corps members and teachers will regularly meet on a weekly - if not daily - basis to go over the lessons of the week and overview students’ progress throughout the year. Corps members are always updated on upcoming projects and homework assignments so that when they see their students during the after school program, they will be able to best assist them during their extended learning time.

Teachers appreciate the continuity of the service corps members provide to their students.

How do you know you've made a difference in the life of a student?

City Year does a great job collecting quantitative and qualitative data that reflects the effectiveness of the service corps members are doing on a day-to-day basis. We track students’ grades, test scores, and attendance as well as surveying students on their attitudes towards school, their peers, and City Year corps members.

On a personal level, corps members are constantly building trust and healthy relationships with the students they are serving. Relationships that are fostered over the year are most likely continued even when the corps member finishes his/her service at that school.

How do families feel about corps members?

Families of the students we serve are just as involved in our service as the teachers are. We communicate with parents regularly to make sure students are attending school, and also update them on their child’s academic and behavioral progress. We also make a strong effort to engage parents and family members to attend City Year events at school and within the communities. We have found that the more invested parents are in their child’s school experience, the more enthusiastic and excited students want to attend school and excel in the classroom.

Will I be able to share what I am passionate about with my students?

Absolutely! Corps members are always encouraged to share themselves with our students, particularly in the after school space. Corps members write lesson plans for the after school program, and also create clubs in something that they are familiar with. Students’ love of learning will strengthen when you teach them something you genuinely love, especially if it is something they've yet to be exposed to. Corps members get really creative – Chess Clubs, Acting Clubs, Step Clubs, World Cup Soccer Clubs, Origami Clubs, French Cuisine Clubs – the sky’s the limit! Bring your passion to your service.

During small group or one-on-one tutoring, if you have creative ideas to teach a lesson to a student that involves role playing, drawing pictures, or even singing, then by all means go for it! There will be a point in time during your service that you will know your students so well that you’ll know exactly how to teach them in a way that will help them learn best.

How do you budget living costs on a stipend?

It is not unusual for corps members to save money before they begin their service. Putting away some extra cash to help pay for bills over the year not only teaches you how to budget and manage your money in a responsible way, but it also grants you financial flexibility when you earn your bi-weekly stipend checks.

When you search for an apartment, it would be best if you roomed with 1-3 other roommates to lessen the cost of rent. Splitting rent 3 ways is significantly cheaper than paying it all yourself! This also goes for bills. Aside from that, you will be required to wear your City Year uniform every day, so you will not need to worry about purchasing office attire during your service year!


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