By Dereion LaSean Stalling, Service Leader at Gossler Park Elementary School Supported by Lincoln Financial & the TJX Foundation.
What is it like to be a part of the first wave of Service Leaders here at the New Hampshire site and in the City Year network?
Well, it is challenging, frustrating, confusing, demanding, interesting, rewarding, and amazing!
The job itself consists of being a leader and role model for my team while also being a full time City Year in my classroom. It has been a challenging transition for both myself, the site, but especially my partner teacher. I was lucky enough to be placed at the same school, with the same teacher. Although our partnership and work together has grown in leaps and bounds, it was difficult at first to establish the boundaries that my new role required me to establish. I would need to be out of the classroom more and my priorities had shifted and were widened beyond just my classroom because I was responsible for the AmeriCorps member experience of 7 others now. We are figuring out what works best for us as a team as we go, but it was definitely one of the first challenges I had to face.
Another challenge that has presented itself is with whom my loyalties lie: with my students or with my team. Do I sacrifice relationship building with my teammates to build bond with my students or vice versa? Finding the balance between my role as an AmeriCorps member in the classroom and as a Service Leader AmeriCorps member has truly been an illuminating experience of trial and error. It is really about realizing that both are important and that I should be making the time for both. I have not found the secret to complete success, but I believe I am on the right track.
With challenges come rewards. I really enjoy the leadership opportunities that are still attached to the Service Leader position. I love leading First Year AmeriCorps members through their Idealist Journey, through their Coordinator Roles, and through many other ups and downs. I enjoy being both a resource and a role model that they can rely on. I like the respect and knowledge that comes with being a leader who is on the ground, in the classroom, right beside them.
During my first year with City Year, within the first few months I knew I was interested in coming back to City Year New Hampshire as a Team Leader. Once they verified the model shift and I knew I could lead both in and out of the classroom, I was sure this was a position for me. I knew I had to come back. My name is Dereion LaSean Stalling and I serve because giving one year just wasn’t enough.
Sean, far right, with the Gossler Park Elementary team that she leads everyday, during fun hike.