By Seamus McGuire, AmeriCorps Member, Alumni Sponsored Team,
Serving at Parker-Varney Elementary School
This past year has been incredibly powerful. I saw and experienced things that I never imagined would happen. This year provided me with so many memorable moments that it would be impossible to list them all. However, I will try to present the top ten moments and memories of my time as a City Year corps member.
1) Working with my focus list students- This was easily the most challenging and rewarding part of my City Year. These students needed the most assistance but they also provided a wealth of laughter and great memories. Helping my 3rd graders learn to multiply, read, and improve behavior was something that motivated me to get out of bed every morning.
2) Basic training Retreat at Camp Berea- BTR allowed for the whole City Year NH site to go spend a few days at the peaceful Camp Berea on Newfound Lake. This retreat provided corps members their first opportunity to perform teambuilding exercises with the members of their school team. My favorite part was developing a skit with the members of the Parker-Varney team that we would get to perform in front of the whole site.
3) Team Birthdays- When it was someone’s birthday on the Parker-Varney team we always made sure that person had a good time. A lot of times you work on your birthday so as a team, we would make a huge card and pool in for a gift card to the birthday person’s favorite coffee place or restaurant.
4) Morning greeting with students- In the morning it’s our job to try and make every student feel welcome and excited to come to school. This is a very special time because we are often the first person that they see every day. Whether we were dancing to the radio or fishing for high fives, making a student smile before entering school can help set a positive tone for the whole day. I will not forget the day that I received 254 high fives from students in one morning.
5) Having a Snow ball fight in April- Just as we were beginning to believe that spring had started in NH, it snowed again. School ended and just as we were making our way to our cars I felt a chilling blast of snow hit my back neck. The team burst out into an impromptu snowball fight.
6) Parker-Varney’s Community meeting- Community meetings are a way to show the whole site the personality of each team and the individuals on that team. Our community meeting was the result of so much hard work and long hours after work. I remember it being nerve racking before the meeting and then feeling really satisfied when our collective work was presented.
7) Global Youth Service Day- This was a day where the students got to take a hands on approach to improving their school through service! At Parker-Varney, corps members facilitated different projects that included, painting a dance floor on the playground, giving the teachers lounge a fresh coat of paint, and even building a new lost and found closet to help organize the lost clothing.
8) Parker Varney winning the best elementary school in the state of NH- The whole school was called into the cafeteria for a surprise. Our principle then informed us that we had won out as the best elementary school in NH. Over the course of the year we got to see how hard the teachers and staff work and it was nice to see that their hard work is being recognized.
9) Playing Paintball on Team day- This was the first time I had ever played paintball in my life. The majority of my teammates had never played before as well. We played against another CYNH team (Bakersville) and had a ton of fun.
10) Any time a student left a thank you note- Sometimes I would be out of the classroom for a little bit and when I returned students would often leave notes or jokes for me on my white board. Around Christmas I received a holiday card from each one of my students in the mail and it was one of the best gifts I received all year.