By Jake Walters, AmeriCorps member, Comcast | NBCUniversal team serving at Jeremiah E. Burke High School

High School Student studying

“I missed you so much yesterday.” When spoken by a student, no combination of words is more heart-warming. Serving at Burke High School, these words speak to a sense of pride and care the students have for their education, a desire to learn, and a whole-school community. 

City Year Boston is but one part of this school community, but even on my very first day of service, it was immediately obvious that our service was valued and respected. Hearing teachers and students tell me they are sad when I am out of the school for learning and development days and are happy when I return makes each day worthwhile.

This school pride is reflecting in the students’ achievements as well. One Friday, I was greeted with an email from a close friend who had no formal affiliation with City Year: “I was listening to NPR and they announced that five schools, including Burke High School!, were moved up from under-performing status.” The exclamation point in the email told me all I needed to know—I could not wait to tell my team! At the end of the day, during our final team circle, I waited for a chance to share the news with my teammates, but our Program Manager Chelsea Earle beat me to the punch. She let us know that not only had the Burke moved up from its Turnaround status, but it was the first Public High School in Massachusetts to perform the feat!

The effervescence of the City Year community, and my team’s joy more specifically, was palpable. That weekend we had much to look forward to—City Year’s Opening Ceremony at Red Jacket Weekend among them—but throughout the thought in the forefront of my mind was, “I cannot wait to get back to school on Monday and congratulate my teachers on the news!”

When I arrived on Monday, the air was thick with joy, appreciation, and, above all, reflection. It was filled with accomplishment and pride, and the ensuing thoughts about what we can do to keep this success train on track. At the Burke High School, we still have much to do. There are still goals to accomplish, still students who need to some additional support, and still school-wide initiatives which need love, care, and diligence to plan and implement. It’s important to remember these, and to remain focused. But in the meantime, it’s those little reminders, those daily interactions with students, and above all—a student saying “hello”—that inspire us to keep improving—to keep serving.

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