Sí Se Puede Awards: February and March

The Sí Se Puede Awards are inspired by Cesar Chavez who was, and still is, an important role model in our community. The people of San José are familiar with his work and celebrate him to this day. This saying, “Sí Se Puede,” is part of that culture and pride.

For students, “Sí Se Puede” is a reminder that they can do well and be great, both in their academics and in the choices they make in life. When corps members assist them in these accomplishments, they are ultimately changing the students’ attitudes about themselves and their future. For corps members, “Sí Se Puede” can be used to get through this city year because it serves as a reminder that they are making a difference in children’s lives and in the world. It’s a symbol of their pride in the community and in the work they do.  With Sí Se Puede awards, we seek to recognize and celebrate exemplary corps member efforts.

The recipients:

Carrie Paulette, Corps Member on the Walmart Foundation team at Cureton Elementary School

Carrie Paulette

Carrie exemplifies what an ideal corps member should be and do. She puts in 110% effort for her service and kids at all times whether that’s during tutoring literacy and math, coaching her behavior students, or leading in after school. She is humble and selfless and has built strong relationships with both her students and team. She is thorough in her work, implements feedback, and provides a safe space for her students to learn.

During the school day she tutors some of Cureton’s most intensive fourth graders in literacy. 7 of her students started the year at the low end of the “well below benchmark” range on their DIBELS DORF and Composite scores, yet all of her students showed growth on the Midyear assessment either in total words read, accuracy or both.

Two of Carrie’s tutoring students showed an 11% improvement in reading accuracy, the largest jump in their class when compared to peers who also started the year in the intensive range.

In seeing her tutor I know those numbers don’t matter. What Carrie does for her students in every interaction is something you can’t measure, and it’s so vital. She shows them their potential and value, and seems to have an endless supply of patience and warmth.

Carrie walks each of her students to and from class and utilizes every possible moment to build trust as she listens attentively to their stories and responds with genuine interest and investment.  Her manner is thoughtful and deliberate as she facilitates sessions backed by her careful planning. She never stops searching for ways to help and engage her students.

It’s no different during afterschool. Carrie has tried several different systems over time to improve her class’ behavior, and her efforts to balance classroom management with homework and literacy support are nothing short of amazing as she works with some of the school’s most challenging students.

Carrie goes the extra mile in all aspects of her service, and her belief in her students and in the power of young people in general is inspiring.

Jenny Ruiz, Corps Member on the Cisco team at Cesar Chavez Elementary School

Jenny Ruiz

Jenny’s work at City Year, I believe, can best be described as that of a honeybee. Bees work hard to make honey, and work relentlessly together for the good on the community. They are intelligent, selfless and dedicated. While small and unassuming, mess with them and they pack a punch.  I feel Jenny embodies many of these characteristics in the work that she does for her school and community and for that, I would like to nominate her for the Si Se Puede Award.

It has been incredible to watch Jenny grow this year in her love and commitment to her students. Whether it is coming up with creative and innovative ways to motivate her attendance focus list students, building confidence in her students struggling with English, or finding avenues to collaborate with teachers, Jenny is constantly coming up with ways to go above and beyond for her students.

Currently 87% of students on Jenny’s attendance focus list are considered on track. On top of that she has launched and successfully led a brand new full school attendance initiative, which incentivizes students to come to school on time and ready to learn. She diligently tracks how often classes have 100% of their homework completed, 100% attendance, and 100% in their uniforms. Since the launch of the initiative in February, we have already seen an increase in all three of the categories with more students coming to school on time and ready to learn than any other time in the year!

Jenny’s same passion and drive for attendance carries through in her tutoring and after school classes. She currently tutors 8 first graders. At the beginning of the year, all of her students were considered intensive. Now at mid-year, five of her students are core for NWF and she has moved 5 of her students into the strategic range for their composite scores. The incredible gains that Jenny’s students have made are a tribute to her hard work and drive to overcome obstacles. She meticulously plans her tutoring sessions. She regularly meets with her teachers to discuss progress and set goals, she has started giving her students homework and supplemental material to encourage literacy at home, and reads with her tutoring students in the morning before school. In addition, the number of small notes, letters, and cards Jenny receives daily from her students I believe is a testament of her student’s love and respect for her.

In our after school program, Jenny teaches 4th and 5th grade literacy. When she took over the class midyear, behavior management was a struggle. She and her co-teacher had to think of creative and innovative ways to motivate their students to succeed. They revamped their incentive systems to create more positive rewards and established relationships with parents by calling home and talking about their student’s behavior. Through this work Jenny saw a need to provide her students with more positive role models who share similar backgrounds.  Thus she reached out to her contacts and brought in a guest speaker from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to talk to her classes about their experiences and hardships and joys of being the first in their family to go to college.

Lastly, for the past five weeks, she has led a science enrichment class with a class of mixed 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Jenny has always loved science. She majored in biomedical engineering and will attend medical school next year. Through her enrichment class, she has been able to share this passion with her students. They have studied the scientific method by conducting hands on experiments. They constructed their own circuit boards, made lava lamps, slime, and homemade volcanoes to name a few. The experiences she has created for her students have inspired many to want to become future scientists, doctors, and engineers!

Jenny’s worker bee mentality, focus, determination, and passion are infused in all aspects of her work and her students, team, and school community are grateful for her service.

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