Written by Tiffany Martins, AmeriCorps member serving on the San Francisco 49ers Team at Clyde L. Fischer Middle School.
City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley’s Opening Day marked the official beginning of our year of service, and the bestowing of “yellow jackets” onto the AmeriCorps members. Our yellow jackets symbolize more than the completion of our two month intensive training. They serve to remind us of our dedication to service and our oath to “make better happen.” The excitement on our faces was apparent as we embarked on our year-long journey to become advocates of education reform and social change. For me, my jacket represents my role in unifying not only a group of young and committed AmeriCorps members, but a community as a whole. Together, we will improve the standards of education so that all students have the opportunity to succeed.
Our Opening Day ceremony brought together our incredible community that make our work possible including parents and families of our students, corporate partners, and representatives from our partner districts - Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD) and East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD). Rene Sanchez, Assistant Superintendent of ARUSD, explained that “City Year is like his fourth cup of coffee that brings him a jolt of energy.” This energy is being brought to 13 East San Jose schools, where we provide support in math, literacy, attendance, and behavior to almost 7,000 students.
Jeff VerHeul, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Engineering at SanDisk stated that, “our nerdy engineers have not seen this level of energy at 8:30 AM ever.” We are so grateful to SanDisk for not only supporting an entire City Year Team this year but also for hosting Opening Day.
While all of the speakers were incredible, the AmeriCorps members who presented their “Why I Serve” statements may have been the most powerful. For me, listening to the reasons my peers are here makes me feel like a part of something bigger. It feels like a family. A family that understands that the journey we all are on will not be easy, but we know we will never be alone.
Together, with our bright yellow jackets on everyday, we will start to change the educational system to ensure every student graduates and beyond. We are here to provide resources where there weren’t before. We are here to build relationships with students. I have already seen it and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my City Year will bring.