By Cyn Njideka AmeriCorps member, UCLA Community School
Debbie Bailey is the Behavior Support Counselor at UCLA Community School. Ms. Bailey addresses student behavioral concerns using evidence-based social work approaches. She ensures students feel heard, supported, and cared for as well as empowered to advocate for themselves and those in their community.
Q: What has been City Year’s impact at UCLA Community School?
A: The City Year AmeriCorps members are really excellent at making connections with students in a way that’s really different from teachers and support staff. I liken it to being an aunt or an uncle because a lot of the time there are things that kids will tell their aunt or uncle that they won’t tell their parents. Our AmeriCorps members, along with those of us on staff, are a collective working to help the child. So, I really appreciate that.
Q: How does having a City Year mentor in a student's life make a difference?
A: From being strong role models to being just caring adults that listen, there are some kids who really are forever touched by the roles that you all play in their lives. When you study resiliency in children, especially resilience from trauma, one huge resiliency factor is if they’ve had an adult in their life that’s made a difference, or made them feel worthwhile. I feel like that’s something that you all definitely do every day. It’s huge. It’s wow. Thank you.
Q: How do teachers and City Year AmeriCorps members collaborate in the classroom?
A: When I go into classrooms, I see you all working one-on-one with students or working with small groups. I see you walking around, maybe a bit of classroom management, but it seems like when you are around, classroom management is just better naturally. I think students begin to feel like their needs are being met. A lot of when kids get in trouble it’s usually because a need isn’t being met or because they need attention.
The collaboration is key. You collaborate with teachers to make sure what needs to get done happens, and you really ensure that it happens. From what I’ve seen [City Year] is a lot more collaborative than most other programs.
I think your philosophy works really well with our school, actually all schools that I’ve talked to that have City Year really really respect and appreciate the corps members. When City Year comes up on the budget and people are asking “do we really need this” the answer is always an unequivocal “yes!”
Q: What is your favorite thing about City Year?
A: I just love the AmeriCorps members. You’re each so different, and you all seem to connect with different kids in different ways. You’re really energetic and enthusiastic, and I know you’re basically working for peanuts. It’s something that I would have been proud to be a part of at your age.
Q: How does having City Year on the school campus affect the school environment?
A: I think of you guys as the bright yellow sprinkles on the cupcake. Things would function without you, but not nearly as well. Just having you here, just creates a feeling of happiness, which is more than sprinkles actually. It just enhances everything.
Q: What message would you like to leave for the team?
A: You guys know how to make every situation work. #Flexibility. You all are a positive force here.
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