By Chanel Mitchell, Corps Member, OneWest Bank Team at Markham Middle School

One cannot enter a room without feeling the positive energy of one of City Year’s leaders. Corps member turned team leader, Corey Gaddis, brings his well-received charismatic personality, effective communication, leadership skills and personal life experience to his year of service as a member of the OneWest team at Markham Middle School. Gaddis achieved many successes his first service year and is determined to have an even greater impact his second time around.

Gaddis experienced the impact of his work when he returned to Markham Middle School this fall, greeted by his former students with jolly smiles and personalized handshakes, one of the many ways in which he created special bonds with his students.

Markham Middle School, one of the lowest performing schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District is located in the community of Watts.  Having had a similar experience growing up in the inner city, Gaddis can relate to his students and understands their daily struggles. Treating all of his students like younger siblings and with compassion and empathy, he creates friendly relationships, making connections based on their individual interests and life experiences. He also develops relationships with his student’s parents and siblings.

Academically he meets the students where they are, aiding them in their learning experience using creativity. Whether it’s a classroom math rap battle or a lunchtime game of basketball, Gaddis finds a way to connect with his students, recognizing their strengths and talents encouraging them to recognize their full potential. He also helped create a gang intervention program in hopes of transforming the minds of young people. He goes out of his way to assist students, encouraging them to manifest their dreams through education. In his words, “education is the ticket out,” a concept that he realized himself.  Gaddis has high expectations and won’t settle for less than great. He sees grit in his students and admires their daily perseverance.

Corey Gaddis has been an impactful presence on the school campus. All will agree that he embodies City Year’s core values. Described by second year corps member Ruben Bautista as, “humble and hype,” Gaddis is a respected leader and a positive role model to his team and students at Markham Middle School. When asked why he chose to return, he simply replied, “My work wasn’t done.”

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