By Seamus McGuire, AmeriCorps Member, Alumni Sponsored Team,
Serving at Parker Varney Elementary School 

Every day at 6:00 a.m. my cell phone alarm goes off encouraging me to get out of bed and get ready for the next 10-12 hours of service. I stumble out of bed and go to the kitchen where I squint around hoping to find the machine that will bring me caffeine salvation. “There!” I say to myself. I reach and press the “large coffee” button on the Keurig machine and hope that it doesn’t tell me to “add water.” “I can give up coffee next week,” I tell myself. I wolf down some eggs and then hop in the shower. I need to leave my house in Concord, NH by 7:00 a.m. to get to Manchester on time for our morning circle with my team at 7:30. 

Ten and a half hours later I finally arrive home. From 6-10 p.m. I have free time where I can do anything that I want to do. This is where I have the chance to wind down and take time for myself. However, this is also where I begin to argue with myself. I say, “Yes! You do have enough energy to go to the gym!” The problem is that, it’s so appealing to just sit in the comfy chair and start catching up on House of Cards. But, I go to the gym because I want to get better and improve myself. I know that working out will be exhausting, but in the long run the results will pay off. I try to think of my service with City Year the same way. Sure, some days you come home and you feel like you’re out of juice. You had to help plan a math night, teach students about perimeter and area, get 2-3 lesson plans squared away and deal with a student who told you he hasn’t seen their dad since September. City Year has been one of the most mentally and physically demanding jobs that I’ve ever had. But, this is what motivates me. I want to be a better person than when I started at City Year. I knew from the start that this job would have its challenges and I accepted them. I wanted to know if I could work hard and face the real world head on. Sometimes the biggest challenge can be yourself. So, what motivates me to keep at it and to try my best every day? Why do corps members stick with it? Well, the answer will be different for everyone. But, I can speak for myself. What it really boils down to is that I do this for my students and myself. I often wonder what my focus list students would be doing if they didn’t have a City Year in their classroom. I see the challenges that students have to face every day and wonder what they would do if they didn’t have us as a resource? Some of these students need help whether it is a high five in the morning when they walk into the school, or if they need to talk to someone about why they are having a really bad day. 

I serve at Parker-Varney elementary school and it is filled with amazing educators and role models. I’ve seen first-hand the many different hats that the teachers have to wear at my school. What these remarkable individuals do day in and day out has raised my level of respect and admiration for the teaching profession. It also serves as a constant reminder that I need to be on point and help them to the very best of my ability. We have made it through the first half of the school year. We have gotten our feet wet so to speak. The final part of the year is about polishing what we have started and refining our efforts. There is a tough road ahead. But, it is a challenge that I happily accept. If I can overcome everything I face this year I will have proven to myself that I’m most certainly capable of going to graduate school or entering the workforce. I take solace in the fact that I’m not doing it alone. I’m motivated by the students, the team, the school, the site and the entire City Year network. We make better happen every day because from the moment we put that red bomber jacket on, we’re ready to serve.

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