A celebration for the commitment of young people in service

Executive Director Beach Pace introduces Deborah Woo to give her "Why I serve" statement at the 2010-2011 San Jose program launch.

Last night we celebrated the launch of the 2010-2011 City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley Corps.  The corps just completed three weeks of Basic Training Academy (BTA) and are preparing to start full time service in their schools tomorrow. Last night was a time for us to celebrate both what they have accomplished already and also the commitment they are making to the 10 months of service ahead in San Jose’s Alum Rock School District.

As a senior corps member, it has been really exciting for me to be sort of on the outside looking in for this BTA.  There are things that I have helped plan and led, but most of BTA for me has been encouraging, observing and learning from the new group of idealists preparing to serve at Cesar Chavez, Horace Cureton, A. J. Dorsa, and Mildred Goss Elementary Schools and Mathson Middle School.

Something that we pioneered this year in San Jose was a summer school and if the work the new corps did with students there is any indication, they are going to accomplish some amazing things this year!  Summer school was meant to be an experiential training exercise for the corps members, but they brought such a high level of professionalism and excellence to their work that in a mere seven days they had significant impact on many student lives.  We asked the principals to recommend behaviorally challenged students for summer school so that we could give them extra support in the transition from summer to school.  Many of these students came and yet we did not have any significant challenges arise.  After having only trained for a week and a half, the corps members were able to inspire the students to be excited about math, reading, and making a difference in their school and community!  If they could accomplish that during the training phase of the year, I cannot wait to see they creativity, passion, and commitment they are going to bring to their daily service at their schools over the coming months!!!

The City Year San Jose senior corps is excited to support our new corps members as they journey through their year of service.

I got the chance to share my “Why I Serve” statement and while I expected to get choked up, it was not at the point I expected.  My service is driven by a passion for closing the achievement gap, and it is usually talking about how students are not given a fair chance to excel academically that makes me a get all teary eyed.

But for me the most emotional point of my speech was when I said,

“I serve because I have seen the difference that a group of committed young people can make and I want to continue being a part of affecting powerful change.”

I am so honored to be serving with the 2010-2011 corps because they have already made a difference in their first month here in San Jose and I know come graduation day they will have quite literally changed the world for hundreds of students on the East Side.

– Deborah Woo, Team Leader at Horace Cureton Elementary School CYSJ

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