After nearly eight months in six Sacramento schools, the 2014-2015 academic year is coming to a close for City Year’s 60 AmeriCorps members. With the continued support from community partners, school faculty and administration, City Year has had the opportunity to serve in two local districts and provide whole school support to students grades K-12. City Year’s work in public schools—in Sacramento and across the country—is focused on providing three targeted interventions to students: attendance, behavior, and course performance in math and English Language Arts (ELA). The ABCs were developed based on research from Johns Hopkins University that concluded that if a student is off-track in one or more of these areas as early as the sixth grade—which can serve as early warning indicators (EWIs)—a student could be at risk of one day dropping out of school. City Year’s comprehensive approach to targeting these EWIs is called the Whole School Whole Child program.
At City Year Sacramento, our AmeriCorps members start each day by greeting their students as they enter school. From high fives to high-energy chants, morning greeting encourages both corps members and students to start their day powerfully. The morning greetings are a key component of City Year’s attendance initiatives. “Every student knows that when they get to school, there will be corps members there to greet them with a smile, and usually with some singing and dancing,” said AmeriCorps member Noah Meister. “While this may seem like a small part of our work, the impact it has can go far. Too many students see school as a boring or stressful space, so the opportunity to make kids smile first thing is one of the best parts of my day.” City Year also cheers on students for their improved attendance rates. At Fern Bacon Middle School, City Year team sponsor AT&T hosted a school-wide luncheon on Saturday, April 18 to celebrate students with recognizable attendance records.
City Year Sacramento AmeriCorps members serve as positive mentors and role models for students in grades 3-9. By facilitating and supporting school-wide programming, AmeriCorps members have the opportunity to participate in established positive school climate initiatives created by school administration. For example, Oak Ridge Elementary School celebrates a pillar of socio-emotional learning on a monthly basis. For the month of March, the school focused on gratitude. “Students were encouraged to show their gratitude in different ways, from writing thank you letters to our custodians, to chalking the blacktop, to giving thanks to staff and teachers, to creating origami hearts for school partners,” said Alexandra Cooperstock, City Year Program Manager serving at Oak Ridge.
This month, the team serving at Leataata Floyd Elementary was excited to support the school’s student showcase held on Thursday, April 16. “The students worked hard on amazing projects,” said Paul Willis, City Year Program Manager at Leataata Floyd. “We're working to double up our efforts with parent engagement and we are inviting more community champions to come into support our students.” The teams serving at Father Keith B. Kenny K-8 and Fern Bacon Middle Schools also supported the schools family science nights, also held on April 16.
The team serving at Rosa Parks K-8 School will host their second annual school service day on Saturday, May 2. Last year’s team beautified the campus through landscaping and mural projects. The corps-led service project provides families with a unique opportunity to engage with their students’ campus and an opportunity for the Meadowview community to support the school. “We have received donations from Home Depot, Starbucks, Togo’s—all local business in our community,” said Macey McKinney, City Year Program Manager serving at Rosa Parks K-8.
Finally, AmeriCorps members serving at Sacramento Charter High School will host a community engagement event on Saturday, May 9. “Our Friends & Family Seminar is a one day event that is designed to connect parents and families to information and resources from their communities,” said Eric Barbour, City Year Program Manager at Sacramento Charter High. Seminar topics will include financial literacy, healthy life-styles and college readiness.
Course Performance in Math and ELA
Educational obtainment and equality are two of our nation’s top priorities for children and young adults. City Year has supported these efforts for years, and remains committed to our work in helping students stay on track with their grades in math and ELA. AmeriCorps members tutor students individually or in small groups, both during the school day and in the afterschool program. AmeriCorps members celebrate student success and encourage continued academic growth. For example, 44 percent of ELA students tutored by AmeriCorps members at Sacramento Charter High School demonstrated meaningful growth by their midyear assessments. Last year, Fern Bacon Middle School ranked highest out of all City Year partner schools in terms of meaningful growth in ELA from the start of year to the end of year assessments.
This month, students will be tested on their academic achievement through standardized testing. City Year Sacramento AmeriCorps members look forward to encouraging students through their assessment periods. “We always look forward to celebrating the achievements of our students and our school partners,” said Jake Mossawir, City Year Sacramento Executive Director. “Our ability to conduct our Whole School Whole Child program can only happen because of the incredible partnerships we have with each of our schools. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve in both the Sacramento City Unified School District and in St. HOPE Public Schools.”