2018-05-24

by Nolan Benson, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member serving at Dr. George Washington Carver Academy of Mathematics and Science

I remember sitting in the City Year Milwaukee office typing out my first blog post. That post entailed reflecting on who I was at that time and discussing my early impressions of service with City Year. Now that my service year is coming to a close (we graduate next week Friday), I want to take this time to discuss how much David, my team leader at Carver, has meant to me this year.

The first few weeks of City Year are incredibly overwhelming, but David kept a calm demeanor throughout the onboarding process.

I started out full of anticipation, which soon turned to confusion, and a feeling of information overload. David could articulate the significance of the City Year culture pieces and "the why" behind everything we do. He set up team bonding activities, such as building towers with our shoes and using animals to symbolically state our work styles, which helped me learn about my teammates and myself. Before we even got into school he talked about the greatness of Carver scholars. His excitement to return to the school where he served offered me inspiration. I started thinking Carver must be pretty great since he kept talking about it with twinkles of pride flashing in his eyes.

Carver scholars have been as great as David said, but it took me a little while to fall in love with the school as he had. I wrote about my struggles with my disability while serving in school in a previous blog post. I felt like I needed to do a little extra to gain the respect of not only my scholars, but also of the scholars school wide. Over the first few months, I contemplated leaving City Year. I communicated my struggles to David and he guided me about how to talk to my team and how to build strong relationships with scholars throughout the school. He helped work out ways to limit how much time I would be obligated to be on my feet. Over time, the physical stress of service became less and less of an issue. I have built positive relationships with numerous scholars throughout the school and I am proud to have been a part of the fifth City Year team serving at Carver.

David also has guided me to my next venture. I would not have had any interest in being a team leader if I had not seen David’s unwavering optimism and lifelong learner attitude. City Year AmeriCorps members ask "what does a team leader even do?" A better question to ask of David is... "what does he not do?" He will support scholars and his team in any way necessary while always keeping the students first in his mind. While I am sad to part ways at the end of the year, I know he will do great in his own teaching adventures. By being one of the most valued mentors in my life, he has inspired me to take on the team leader role at City Year Milwaukee.

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