2016-10-24

Written by Katie A. Charbonneau, AmeriCorps Member proudly serving at Celerity Lanier Charter School.

When you’re a City Year AmeriCorps Member, training doesn’t end when the academic year begins. Throughout the year, every City Year site has trainings during Learning and Development Days (LDDs). These trainings can be on any topic, from education pathways to determining what your LACY (Leadership After City Year) plan will be. This past Wednesday, we had an LDD that focused on the research of Dr. Gil Noam, founder and director of the Program in Education, Afterschool, and Resiliency (PEAR), and associate professcor at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Noam was invited to Baton Rouge to teach us about his research in trauma and the resilience of youth. Since the flood this summer, many City Year AmeriCorps Members in Baton Rouge have wondered how to best support our students. In response, Dr. Noam introduced us to The Clover Model, a developmental framework he created. The Clover Model states there are four elements children need to learn and thrive: Active Engagement, Assertiveness, Belonging, and Reflection. These four leaves of the clover represent body, voice, external support, and insight, in that order. When children suffer from trauma, each clover leaf is negatively affected in some capacity. This causes the way children interact with the world to change. Children might become withdrawn and hypervigilant, for example.

As a City Year AmeriCorps Member, I am not a licensed therapist. I am, however, a mentor. I cheer on students as they take their math tests. I take them into the hallway and talk to them when they act out. Your mentoring style must be different with each child. For example, I have one student that is extremely shy. She does not talk and does not ask for help frequently. During the last few months, we have let her whisper answers to us and have even communicated with her through writing. This past week, we made a breakthrough when she read a sentence out loud (though very quietly) in front of the class! Through using The Clover Model, we will be able to better assess what she needs to thrive.

I am so grateful to City Year and Dr. Noam for teaching us about his research. As soon as the LDD ended, I couldn’t wait to go back to school and use The Clover Model in class. I know my students are already benefitting from my newfound knowledge.

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