Written by Rosalie Cole, corps member serving on the Lamar Advertising Company team at Melrose Elementary School.
Becoming a City Year Corps member is a life-changing decision. Young Idealists of all cultures and backgrounds gathered at the start of our Basic Training Academy here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to begin this amazing journey. After growing so close as a whole, we finally were separated into our school teams! Through this we are able to reach as many schools in EBR as possible. All of our teams are spectacular, but here is a quick look into one; Team Melrose!
Tavidee Hoskins is our amazing team leader from Columbus, Georgia! He serves because he spoke with a City Year representative during a grad fair at his school. He was sold on the idea of giving a year of his life to potentially change the world! His favorite part of the day is greeting the kids in the morning. He really loves when the whole team is in the room; the energy is enveloping. He loves being on Team Melrose because "everyone has a unique identity, but is fully accepting of everyone around them. In such a short time, I feel we have developed a pure respect and warm love for each other, and I can't wait to see what the future holds."
Ryan Whiting is a Second Year Corps Member from Ellington, Connecticut. Striving for educational equality in inner city schools is what brought him to serve with City Year. His favorite time of the school day is recess! He loves being apart of Team Melrose because "being back for a second year at Melrose is amazing! Having prior relationships with the school while having fresh city year faces helps spark melrose for a strong year!"
Kerstin Groop is originally from Montvale, New Jersey. When asked what brought her to City Year, she said, "The country is slowly changing and I needed to be a part of that change. I knew that no matter what job I was working, there would still be a void. I came to City Year to fill that piece of me that needed to be apart of something impactful." Her favorite part of the day is the morning. She says, "No matter how much coffee I drink or breakfast I eat, I still feel the morning blues of the day ahead of me. But then the students get off the bus and spritely walk over for a hug and I have no problems, no troubles. Everything that could possibly have been wrong prior is out of my hands. All that I have is a warmth in my heart from a child who has so much love to give." She loves being on team Melrose because our team has so much heart. She knows her teammates will always be there for her and they need to know she will always be there for them.
Kendra Caldwell is from Cahokia, Illinois. What brought her to City Year was the opportunity to work with children in schools directly having an impact on the dropout crisis. She comes from a school similar to the schools we serve in, and she has personally seen students give up because they do not have the support or positivity they need. She believes all children should have a quality education and should look forward to school. Her favorite part of the school day is the morning greeting, spreading positivity and excitement to the students and also the teachers and staff at the school. She loves being on Team Melrose because "we are an awesome team and work well together. We share many laughs and work hard daily."
Kenzie Drexler is from New Ulm, Minnesota, and came to serve with City Year because she wanted to take an academic break before grad school. Her favorite part of the day is talking to the kids on the way to the bus. She loves being team melrose because "our team dynamics are awesome!"
Kaia Duke is from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. What brought her to city year was a love for kids and the desire to have a direct impact on encouraging them to enjoy school like she did at their age. She has two favorite parts of the day: Greeting our students in the morning by name and our team's strong circle at the end of the day! She loves being on team Melrose because "I've loved watching everyone find a student or idea that they are passionate about and the drive with which they pursue that passion. Also, the laughter. We laugh a lot and it's wonderful!"
Krista Pregony is from Ellington, Connecticut (Fun fact about Ellington: less than 16,000 people live in town and there used to be more cows than people!). What brought her to City Year was learning about City Year through another AmeriCorps program, Jumpstart. When she finished her two terms of service with Jumpstart, she knew that her passion to lessen the education gap and provide quality education and relationships to children had not been satisfied. Her favorite part of the day at school is when the students get to school! She says, "Whether we are able to morning greet or not, we get lots of smiles and high fives. The best part is when you see a student who does not seem to excited to be at school, and with a few words of encouragement they are on their way with a smile and their head held a little higher." She loves Team Melrose because of how comfortable she feels with all of the members of our team. Everyone has their own something special they bring to our team, and she is so happy to appreciate those little things about everyone.
Jimmy McCluskey is from Deer River, Minnesota. He came to City Year because he didn't want to fill my gap year with just anything; he wanted to give back to the community while working with some of the world's most important people, the youth of today who are tomorrow's prime movers. His favorite part of the day is when the first bell rings in the classroom. He says, "These kids turn any day into your best day." He loves being on Team Melrose because he is working with a diverse group of people that share similar goals and make better happen, and most importantly are all here for the kids!
Nicole Shaw is a Baton Rouge native who came to City Year to give back to her community and hometown. Her favorite part of the day is both morning circle and watching her students get off of the bus or out of their cars with smiles on their faces as they see red jackets and khaki pants! She loves being on Team Melrose because "we really are a family. From day one we created a special bond and I love them. We share our time, space, children, and even emotions. I wouldn't have it any other way. I truly ride for my team and I'm so honored to be a part of such a dynamic group of powerful, smart, and beautiful minded people!"
Rosalie Cole is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. What brought her to City Year was how strongly she felt about the CY mission while looking at different service programs for her gap year. Her favorite part of the day comes at different times! She loves the special moments when a child's face lights up when they realize they CAN do it. She loves team Melrose because of how supportive and and comfortable we all are with each other.