By Sarah Giles, Corps Member, JPMorgan Chase Team at Mendez Learning Center

This is City Year Los Angeles’ first year in high schools and I have the privilege of serving in one of them on the JPMorgan Chase Team at the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center.

Since we’re the first team to serve here, we have the opportunity to lay the foundation for future City Year teams and help in building CYLA’s high school service. While this is incredibly exciting, it has also put a lot of weight on our shoulders. However, I’m happy to say, we’re off to a great start. Here are of some of the things we’ve been doing:

Creating a college-going culture. As we create our impact at Mendez, we are constantly emphasizing the importance of education beyond high school. We make college a constant topic of conversation with all of our students. We share our experiences, establish long-term goals with our students and encourage them to pursue those goals through education. We also remind them that in order achieve those goals they have to start focusing on their academics now.

Providing one-on-one support. In the month of October, we were able to facilitate a Report Card Conference with the 9th and 10th graders. With support from other on-campus community organizations, we were able to speak to the students one-on-one about their grades. We discussed their goals, their struggles, and their successes. Many of the students I met with were able to reflect on some reasons why their grades may not demonstrate their true ability in the class. We were able to discuss some tactics to keep the students focused on their classes and set short-term goals for the next report card. It was inspiring to serve as a reminder to these students that they can accomplish their goals. I am proud to serve as a support to them and I am excited to see where the year takes them.

Serving the needs of high school students after school. In our after-school program, we have to be ready to be chemists and physicists, tackle pre-calculus problems, and discuss AP Literature topics. We also have to take into account the additional responsibilities many of our students have, knowing that some of our students have younger siblings to take care of, jobs, and other extra curricular activities. With the first two years of high school being the most important on their path to graduation, our goal is to help keep our students focused on their academics while balancing other aspects of their lives.

Though high school is a challenging new step for City Year Los Angeles, the Chase Team at Mendez Learning Center is tackling it head-on and working to make sure our students are on track to graduation. By establishing a strong foundation now, we are paving the way everyone’s for long-term success.

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