By Monique Legault, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Henry Wilson Elementary School Team.
At City Year, we often share stories about our classrooms and how much impact we have on our students in their academic adventures. However, being a City Year AmeriCorps Member is so much more than just being an extra adult in the classroom: it is about being a cheerleader to every single student in the entire school. The other day I had an experience that really showed me how much I and my teammates impact students at our school, even the ones who I don’t work with directly.
A few days before winter break Henry Wilson Elementary School held a Christmas concert, where all grades had the opportunity to sing a song in front of peers, teachers, and parents. The morning of the concert, a 1st grade student came to the door where I was greeting students and burst into tears because she was nervous about the concert. Her mother spent about five minutes explaining that being nervous was not a reason to miss school and encouraging her daughter to enter the doors, but to no avail.
At that point I stepped outside and bent over to talk to the student. I told her that some of my third-grade students were very nervous as well, and I had told them that if they got too nervous to sing, they could sit next to me and sing from there instead. I offered this option to her, and with a sniffle she agreed to let me walk her to class. Her mother looked at me in relief and thanked me for my help.
Later that morning, the time for the concert arrived, and as the 1st grade students stood up, this student slowly stood and looked towards me. I saw her start to lose her confidence, so I went up to the first-grade group and sat down at her feet. Although she only sang one word of the entire song (the last word) she was standing the whole time and her mother was able to see her with all her classmates in the concert.
Now, every morning that this student comes through the door, I give her a big smile and a high-five and tell her how excited I am that she is in school that day. She may not have sung at the concert, but she also didn’t miss a day of learning. There was someone at the door who was a smiling face that made her feel comfortable, even though I had never had any significant interaction with her prior. City Years makes a difference in more than just their individual classrooms: we make a difference to the whole school we serve in.
If you or someone you know is interested in applying to serve with City Year, check out our application homepage! Our next deadline for applications is January 25th.