Written by Lydia DuBois, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Capital Area United Way Team at Capitol Middle School.
PITW #140: “Take responsibility for your own well-being. Often the first thing we lose at City Year is sleep, followed closely by our perspective.”
These months we have spent in school lend themselves to our expanding perspectives. I feel I have gained perspective on how different my role as an AmeriCorps member is from the role of my partner teacher’s. Yes, while all AmeriCorps members and teachers work to educate and expand the minds of our students, and we work tirelessly each day to exercise the patience and assertiveness we know we have, there are certain differences between our jobs. There are, in fact, some luxuries that Americorps members have that teachers do not. At City Year, we all possess three “intangible gifts.”
The first gift is time. Our positions as classroom tutors enable us to connect with each of our students as humans, once we peel back the layers of test scores and reputations constructed from previous years. We can take that “problem child” for a 1:1 intervention or a walk around the hallway to cool down. We can take a group of four to the library and begin the intervention by talking about our days. At City Year, school time is also “people time.”
The second gift is our community. Is there any other job that enables one to discuss their day before and after it begins? Whether it is morning circle, where we start and end the day by discussing our joys, ripples (hopes), and appreciations; team time, required hours the team must spend doing something recreational together; gap meetings, where the team discusses our growth and progress goals; appreciation jars, where team members receive written appreciations from their teammates; or simply our red jackets, that represent unity and consistency within our schools, so many aspects of City Year portray our tight-knittedness.
Lastly, we have culture. Core values listed in the City Year handbook are cemented into every fiber of our being: we strive always walk in one another’s shoes, we celebrate differences, we believe in the power of young people, to name a few. PITWs govern our demeanors and our interactions, while always reminding us to sit back and reflect. Our City Year rooms in our schools, decorated with our spirit and mission, radiate our values throughout the school.
Serving as an AmeriCorps member means being a teacher, a role model, a friend, and a mentor. Serving as an AmeriCorps member means working long hours, striving to exercise patience and fight fatigue while explaining a math problem or new vocabulary word. Serving as an AmeriCorps member means possessing three intangible gifts.