Growing up in Oregon, I had never heard of City Year. At the University of Oregon, being the eager freshman I was, I talked to a career counselor who mentioned City Year as a potential opportunity to take during a year off from school. I applied to where most-needed before the first application deadline, giddy with excitement. I signed up to serve because I knew that I had a lot to learn and hopefully a lot to offer. Now I serve because the students that I work with inspire me. They motivate me, they ground me, they challenge me, they may frustrate me, but without a doubt they make me smile and make me laugh. All of this fun starts during 1st period, where I tutor the first few of 8 students that I will spend individualized intervention sessions with throughout the school day. One of the students that I tutor in literacy is Jaylin.
When I met Jaylin, her attitude was polarized as either spunky or defeated. She is so clearly a bright girl, but when challenged I saw her shut down, a quality I recognized in myself. As months passed as her Extended Learning Time (ELT) Bridge leader, I began to gain her trust. Enough trust to learn of her broken family dynamics and her belief that her teacher does not believe in her. All that I could do was encourage her to try her best. Her best began to be better, and now her confidence is higher than ever. Now she is proud of her schoolwork and she has exceeded the 6th grade benchmark in fluency and reading comprehension, but what I am most proud about is how she is no longer stifled by reading a big word or solving a long math problem. I know that she can do these things without help. And most importantly, she knows that she can, too.
When I am not tutoring, I get to break up the day by playing football with kids during lunch, assisting with student council meetings, or leading Reader’s Theater during a special education class, before heading off to Room 55 where I meet my BRIDGE class promptly at 2:45. Up until this point in the year, I have led two literacy blocks during ELT each day but I am in the process of transitioning into Co-Behavior Coordinator where I will work with students who exhibit anti-social behavior or have more intense social and emotional needs. After my year of service ends, I will be a senior studying psychology and special education. I hope to build upon my experiences with education, to keep them in my mind as I one day hope to become a school psychologist, where I will meet many Jaylin’s, Fabian’s, Jesus’s, Jonathan’s and Angela’s again.