I’m AJ, an AmeriCorps Member at Miami Carol City Senior High School. I’m originally from the northern part of the United States. I graduated from Wittenberg University in May of 2015 with a double major in Psychology and Spanish Language.  I love traveling and learning about new people!

            My coordinator role at Miami Carol City Senior High School ties in well with my interests. Since I work in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classroom, I have the privilege of being ESOL Coordinator. I work to ensure the events we plan are ESOL-friendly and help other AmeriCorps members think of ways to better serve the ESOL students in their classrooms.

One of the things that makes City Year unique is the very deliberate approach to the organizational culture. (Bear with me for a moment.) There are ten carefully chosen organizational values that guide our work. There are rituals, such as First Circle and Final Circle, which are followed at every site in the nation. These pieces help us remember that we are One City Year, no matter how far apart the sites may be. The piece of City Year culture I like most is that of the “Starfish Story,” a short example of how we as AmeriCorps members have impacted a specific student. One of my favorite Starfish Stories goes like this:

In 2015 an AmeriCorps member was placed in an ESOL classroom. Some of her students fussed and fussed about going to small group with her, but they soon figured out that it wasn’t so bad.

Then, the results from testing came back. Some of her ESOL kids had scored high enough to graduate from ESOL! Oh, that corps member was proud of her students as, even though she’d only been with them for four weeks, she was fiercely possessive of them. Some of the kids who passed came by the classroom just to tell her, but there was one who seemed to have simply disappeared.  

            One Monday afternoon during Farewells she spotted her wayward student. She hopped out of her place in line, walking with him and asking about why he hadn’t been in class. “I got passed out, Miss!” he exclaimed to her. “I’m not in your class no more!”

            Oh, that made her happy. He hadn’t been skipping class at all – he’d been moved instead! “You know I’m still going to bother you about your classes though, right?” she asked teasingly.

            “Oh, I know miss,” he laughed back with a grin.  “I know.”

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