Alexis Richardson is grateful she had a positive experience with education growing up, where she attended Tulsa Union schools and received a scholarship to play softball at Benedictine College in Kansas. It was so positive, in fact, she decided she wanted to become a teacher and graduated with an elementary education degree.

It was during her senior collegiate year when she heard heartwarming stories from a friend, now City Year Tulsa Team Leader, of working with students. Wanting to test drive a career in education, she hoped serving with City Year would allow her to make a positive impact as well.

Alexis has proudly served as Sequoyah Elementary School Team’s positive school climate coordinator. It’s a role she’s come to really enjoy, as she learned to let go and have fun while greeting students with high-fives as they arrive to class, creating colorful bulletin boards in the hallways and writing notes of encouragement for students to find on their lockers or take home.

Alexis believes elementary school is a critical time that can determine whether students will have a positive or negative outlook on the rest of their education, and she sees that many students need more one-on-one attention to build consistent learning habits than many teachers can provide in schools that are under resourced.

This was evident for a student she had in her 4th grade class, who was uninterested in learning and having behavior problems that made many see him as a “bad” boy. Alexis says it took weeks of working one-on-one with him to break down his walls, but she eventually learned there was trouble at home he was reacting to.

Her goal was to help him feel good while he was at school and as the year passed he became more engaged in the classroom and even want to do homework with her. She remembers receiving a heartfelt note from him thanking her for her help as one of the most rewarding moments of her City Year experience.

Alexis is taking her positivity with her next year when she steps back into a classroom, this time as a second-grade teacher with Jackson Elementary School. She says one of the biggest lessons she’ll take with her from City Year is understanding it’s not possible to fix everything for all students, but to be positive she can truly make a difference to the students she works with.

Are you, or do you know, a 17-25 year old who is ready to serve Tulsa’s youth while developing their own personal, professional and leadership skills? If so, encourage them to learn about service with City Year Tulsa. Together we can #makebetterhappen in Tulsa.

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