By Christian Collins, serving on the Team at Carl G. Lauro Elementary School
It is important to learn from the people who have been in the same positions as we are in now. Through Alumni Spotlights, we are able to learn from the City Year alumni who have graduated and continued their personal and professional development.
This spotlight features Julio Santana, a City Year Providence Alum who is currently working as a teacher in New York City through the AmeriCorps program, Teach For America.
Christian Collins (CC): What do you miss most about City Year?
Julio Santana (JS): As seemingly unprofound as this may sound, definitely being able to go home and leave the work at work; having legitimate consistent 'me', or rejuvenation, time.
CC: What about City Year has the biggest impact on you?
JS: I would say, the ability to recognize that results -- in the context of educating and working with the youth -- may not immediately present themselves or seem to exist. More than often, our impact is being made, even if there seems to be no academic evidence of it.
CC: Where do you work now?
JS: I am now an AmeriCorps Member for Teach For America, working in the Bronx, NY at Bronx Compass High School.
CC: What do you do there?
JS: I am a special education teacher, teaching 10th Grade Algebra Regents Prep (state mandated exam) Math, as well as Criminal Justice. I am also an 11th grade advisor, which involves mentoring and guiding nineteen 11th graders. There are few moments that I am not occupied with something regarding my aforementioned responsibilities.
CC: How did City Year help you prepare for this job?
JS: Understanding that the truly most important thing in working with youth, particularly those from underprivileged communities, is relationship building; this is what enables us to best plant seeds that will manifest themselves in very healthy ways, even if not immediately.
CC: What advice would you give to this year's corps?
JS: Don't take things personally from the kids; be consistent and persistent in working with the kids; show the parents that you truly care by maintaining communication with them; listen to the kids; don't be someone you're not, be truly yourself; think outside of the box and don't be afraid to challenge standard methodology or systems; have a 'happy place' or at least something that allows you to truly separate yourself from the stressors of the job; understand that our influence may not be able to change the kid's entire consciousness or way of being, but it absolutely bears weight; understand that nothing is 'the end of the world' - don't exacerbate problems or stressors of the job unnecessarily.
Thank you to Julio for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions for us, and providing valuable insight to this year’s corps! Your insight into our year of service will certainly prove useful!