Written by Jordan Palmer, proud AmeriCorps member serving on the Lamar Advertising Company team at Melrose Elementary School. 

CityYear Baton Rouge is thrilled that 12 young idealists who served with us this year will be returning to give a second year of service in our schools. We want to welcome and congratulate these awesome ladies and gentlemen for accepting another position with City Year Baton Rouge!

Team Leaders

Tiana Hill is 23 years old from Chicago, Illinois and graduated in May 2014 with a degree in Family Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Tiana is nervous about what the next year will be like, but would like the incoming CMs to know, “not to let anyone or anything stop you from what you are passionate about. Be true to who you are and make sure you give your all.” One thing Tiana loves about City Year is how we work in and reach out to the communities where our students are from.

Tavidee Hoskins is 24 years from Columbus, Georgia and graduated in May 2014 with a degree in Psychology and Writing from Georgia Southern. The thing that makes Tavidee most anxious about taking on the responsibility of being a team leader is figuring out how to congeal a group of complete strangers. “I want my team to have a strong bond and from day one it will be my mission to be a bonding agent for these individuals.” One thing he will not forget about this past year is “the hands that have touched my heart in every way possible. The students, they are everything.” Tavidee’s advice is prepare yourself to not be prepared for anything.

Janae Babineaux is 23 years old from Youngsville, Louisiana and graduated in December, 2013 with a History degree from Louisiana State University. What made Janae want to come back to City Year Baton Rouge is City Year’s mission and culture. Being able to be doing what she loves everyday, alongside individuals who share the same vision and ideals as she does, is an incredibly fulfilling experience. Some things Janae will not forget about this past year are her students, team, and all the incredible memories that were made over these last 10 months. Janae wants the incoming CMs to know that if they have an idea, SHARE IT! Collaboration is key. City Year corps members are creative and innovative and if you work together, you can accomplish some pretty incredible things! 

Emily Hinshaw is 23 years old from Pleasant Garden, North Carolina who graduated in May 2014 with degrees in Psychology and American Indian Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Emily will never forget her students and their ability to make her laugh. She wants the incoming CMs to know that focusing on their students when having a rough day and relying on their team during those hard times is what they are here for. Emily wishes she could make this past year last longer. 

Ajita Harrison is 23 years old from Santa Cruz, California who graduated in May 2014 with degrees in Political Science and Gender Studies from Whittier College. Ajita’s cherished moments from this year include when her students would run up and give her a hug in the morning; when her focus list students would come up to her in class and ask “you gonna get me for math?”; when an entire line of first graders would stick out their hands for high fives; or just hanging out with her team in the City Year room.  Her favorite CY value is Students First, Collaboration Always. She does not believe that we can succeed as individuals- we will only be able to succeed if we work together, when we recognize our own strengths and weaknesses, and when we know when we need to seek help and when we should offer it. As long as we remember that we are doing this to improve the education and, ultimately, the lives of these students will we succeed in our roles.  

Amber Curry is 23 years old from Staten Island, New York and graduated in 2014 from Union College where she studied Philosophy and French. Amber is most nervous about making the adjustment from being focused on student growth to being focused on both student and Corps Member growth. She wanted to come back and serve another year with City Year because she enjoyed the positive atmosphere and culture as well as the great change that this organization is making each and every day. She wishes she would have sought more opportunities to serve and engage with the Baton Rouge community outside of City Year. One thing Amber would like to tell incoming Corps Members is that the best way to start their year of service is to realize that it is just that: a year of service!

Impact Leader

Annmarie Valentin is 23 years old from Miami, Florida who graduated Spring 2014 with a double diploma - a BA in Psychology and a BS in Social Work- from Florida International University. Annmarie is nervous about making sure she has a wide range of impactful service events for the Corps Members to enjoy. Her favorite City Year value is Belief in the Power of Young People. These students are our future and it is up to us to ensure that they are receiving the education they need to make the best of that. Every single student has the opportunity for greatness; sometimes they merely need that extra push or that person to believe in them. She wants the incoming CMs to remember why you are dedicating this year of service. It gets hard, but remember that you are here for your students and that they are counting on you.

Second Year Corps Members

Jordan Palmer is 23 years old from Kansas City, Missouri and Cincinnati, Ohio who graduated in May 2014 from THE Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she studied Health Studies, Child Studies, and Black World Studies. Jordan is most nervous about some of the responsibilities that will be given to her as a Second Year, with her Team Leader and Impact Leader looking to her for extra help since the newer CMs are still learning. The one day that Jordan will never forget was the day one of her 3rd graders came up to her and said, “Ms. Jordan, you are really mean but I know it is because you want me to do better and succeed.  Thank you and I love you.” That day helped Jordan realize that she was making a difference in someone’s life and that is what this past year was all about for her. One thing Jordan wants to tell the incoming CMs is PITW #159: “This is hard. Be strong.” Some days will most likely be harder than others but remember you are here for a reason. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but you are making a difference in these students’ lives. 

Ryan Whiting is 20 years old from Ellington, Connecticut who is coming up on his junior year at High Point University where he majors in Business. What really made Ryan want to come back is the opportunity to continue working with Baton Rouge students. The relationships he has built would not have been possible with any other program. One thing he will not forget about this year is his team. They are 10 strong and have grown incredibly close this year. Without the support or occasional joke or two, his year wouldn’t have been as exciting. His favorite part of the CY culture is our founding stories. There’s never a bad time to pick up your Idealist’s Handbook and have a quick read. Ryan wants the incoming CMs to remember your year will go faster than you expect, so take advantage of the time you have.

Bianca Medina is 22 years old from Dallas, Texas who graduated in 2014 with an English major and a minor in Mexican-American Studies from UT Arlington.  One thing that will stick with Bianca from this past year is the time she did a skit in front of the entire corps with her squeaky mouse voice during an English/Language Arts training. Anyone who knows her well will say that she is a ridiculous goofball. But, she is also pretty shy. CYBR has helped her embrace her quirky side and to not hide it. Turns out, even super cool 8th-graders like it when their CM livens up their academic interventions with her “weirdness.” Bianca wants the incoming CMs to know that you can’t save the world in ten months. You’re not the teacher; you’re there to help the students as best you can. Don’t put the weight of their success on your shoulders. Take a deep breath, don’t stress and help your students learn. When you see those sparks of sudden understanding in their eyes --that’s when everything about your service suddenly makes sense.

Lindsey Lafleur is 22 years old from Opelousas, Lousiana who graduated in May 2014 with an Art History major from Lousiana State University. Lindsey’s relationships that she formed with her students made her want to come back to serve another year. She will never forget the day one of her students could solve a word problem on his own. Lindsey wants to tell incoming CMs to take tons of pictures so you can remember everything about your year of service. 

Dallas Khamiss is 23 years old from Pensacola, Flordia and graduated in May 2014 with a degree in Biology from the University of Florida. Dallas has framed this coming year around how well he will assist the new corps members on his team, and he does not want to lose sight of this. Initially, he had the impression that he could teach the world to his students every day, but he had slowly learned to rejoice in their small victories, academic or otherwise. He wishes he could have had this mindset earlier in the year. Dallas words to the incoming CMs are, “You will learn to find appreciations in the most non-quantifiable things: the way a student looks up to you, the relationship you form with your teacher, and so on.”

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