by Autumn Wightman, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member proudly serving on the Bakersville Elementary School team
Serving with City Year New Hampshire is an experience that has taught me more than I will ever be able to put into words. The culture of City Year is unlike anything else I had previously experienced. It was honestly overwhelming at first; however, on my path to understand my own “whys” for serving (why I am here, why I will be serving a second year with City Year, why the culture is important) I have found countless reasons to love the communities I am part of, both those related to City Year and the greater Manchester, NH area.
This year, I have been part of a City Year team who has helped guide me to grow both personally and professionally. Everyone on my team has been supportive of each other without fail, with each person finding their own way to leave an impact on our students at Bakersville Elementary School. My teammates have each taught me something invaluable, ranging from the importance of leaving my comfort zone to actively engage the students, to the importance of taking time to carefully reflect rather than make myself heard, as well as to balance my responsibilities with my need to self-care. I have learned to work with others’ strengths, rather than work around their weaknesses, and I have come to a place where I can rely on my teammates without fear.
I have also served with a partner teacher who gives me the freedom to find a place in the classroom where I feel most comfortable, but who always allows me the chance to challenge myself and encourages me to take leadership opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom. At least once a day a student does or says something that reminds me why I come back every day and how important this work is. Even though there are some “off” days, my students always find ways to show that they appreciate me as well. When it comes to my students, I have learned the value in patience and above all to appreciate all of the little moments.
Like anywhere else, serving as an AmeriCorps member at Bakersville is not without its challenges. However, no matter how hard a day may have been, or how stressed I may be feeling, the students, staff and Bakersville City Year team always find a way to make sure that you feel appreciated and supported. I couldn’t have asked for a better partnership, team or community to learn from this year. Despite all that I have already learned, there is still so much more to learn, and that is why I will be returning to City Year New Hampshire as a Service Leader next year.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining City Year, click here for information about the application process. The next application deadline is June 1st.