Written by Ally Sawyer, corps member on the Applied Materials Team at Lee Mathson Middle School
At Lee Mathson Middle School, where I serve, City Year works closely with the school administration to provide a seamless and comprehensive support structure for students. The program this year is different as I’m sure it is different every year. One way this has impacted me personally is that I facilitate a small block of Resource Specialist Program students: students that fall under the special education umbrella and require additional support. Last year, these students were mixed in with their differently leveled peers, which did not benefit them. Currently, they travel together in each of their after-school extended learning blocks, which provides them with scaffolded material and a higher teacher to student ratio, as well as allowing for personalized one-on-one support.
One of the most attractive elements of City Year is that we are entirely composed of young, educated, highly invested Corps Members, and we use the power of young people to shape and grow the organization we have chosen to represent. One example of this is the way City Year at Lee Mathson Middle School has shifted to fully incorporate students with differently abled needs. Each ‘class’ of Corps Members continues to grow the program, to strengthen it. To be clear, each year of Corps Members are not distinct separate entities; every legacy builds on the shoulders of the year before, led by the City Year staff who do not leave after one year. These lasting relationships have strengthened City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley’s partnership with the Alum Rock Unified School District, to the point where the school itself makes it clear to parents and students that it is the expectation for all sixth grade students to be enrolled in the City Year Extended Learning Time after-school program.
The Resource Specialist Program class is all of ten students large, and it would be easy—almost understandable—for them to be lost in the scramble of the public school system, or even lost in City Year’s program, which has over 180 students enrolled. I am proud to serve for these students, who have to work twice as hard with half the resources, and I am proud that I have joined an organization that is focused to providing not only students, but schools with the support needed for success; a true dedication to the model of ‘Whole School, Whole Child.’