I’ve been a corps member with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley serving at Cesar Chavez Elementary School since the fall of 2009. Ever since our team started running an after school program at Chavez in October of that year, I’ve thought about what it’d be like to spend an afternoon on the campus of the only middle school our site serves at, Lee Mathson.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the elementary school I serve at, but to me there’s always been some sort of intrigue surrounding the happenings at the middle school between 3 and 6 in the afternoon.
Recently, my intrigue was satisfied thanks to our new Team Leader Exchange Program; a concept designed by our Program Managers as a way for Team Leaders to share best practices and to get new and exciting ideas from other school sites by observing during after school program.
The day of the exchange, I walked down the street to Lee Mathson Middle School. After a quick check-in with Program Manager Laura Cutler and Team Leader Sam Waller, I had all the information I needed to get exactly what I wanted from the day. For my visit, I was looking for new ideas regarding homework center, transitions to and from enrichment activities and for sign out process.
I came away with all I was looking for and so much more.
The most valuable takeaways from my Mathson experience were inspiration and a new perspective.
I was so inspired by the dedication the Mathson team showed working with some very challenging students, students who struggled both socially and academically.
Talking to students one on one I realized though the team may not hear “I Love You City Year!” as often as we do at the elementary schools, their students were really appreciative of the work they were doing.
I noticed the teams’ ability to attack each new challenge with a creative solution. By giving students a wide variety of enrichment activities to choose from, they kept them engaged in their learning. Enrichments I observed included: a flag football team, kite making and a Reading Buddies Program, where middle school students went and read with the elementary students at my school.
At times, I get caught up in what my service looks like at my school, or on my specific project. This opportunity allowed me to see what is going on at another school, which connected me with other corps members and students and provided new perspective and inspiration that will guide me through the rest of the year.
Nick Hedrick, TL at Cesar Chavez Elementary School CYSJ