Emily Martinez is a teacher at John Liechty Middle School in Westlake Koreatown.

How does City Year help build a positive school climate? Having someone there for the students that they can talk to and relate to, that’s really positive. . . .You all establish relationships that are sometimes closer than teacher/student relationships. City Year creates a safe space.

How do teachers and AmeriCorps members collaborate in the classroom? For me, I get together with my corps members and I talk to them about my plan, my week ahead, and kind of tell them ‘this is what we’re doing, this is where you can come in, pull these students out, and give them extra help.’ Planning helps us know where we’re going and what we’re doing . . . .and what our end goal is. They can sometimes offer me ideas too, and I always appreciate that input.

In your own words, why is City Year’s work necessary? Having that AmeriCorps member there for the students – a person that’s not their teacher or administrator – that’s important. Sometimes students just want to talk to you about their day, and having someone that they can make that connection with is amazing. And the academic support – City Year is the one who’s gonna give them that extra little push.

What is your favorite piece of City Year culture and why? I definitely love when you all get together and you do ‘the chant’ [Power Greeting]. When I come to school in the morning and I walk into that energy, you know sometimes it totally changes your mood. That energy – I just love it! – and I would assume it’s the same for the kids out there. It’s really powerful because you need a lot of energy just to get through the school day – both teachers and students.

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