Written by Kaia Duke, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Lamar Advertising Company Team at Melrose Elementary School
Friday morning found City Year AmeriCorps members doling out muffins on napkins to students and their moms for Muffins with Mom. I enjoy these student-parent events because I have the opportunity to see who raises the kids who spend their days and years with City Year.
As I prepped my table, I felt a squeeze around my waist from the left. Looking over I saw one of my students, "Elle," who knows the spot next to me quite well and with whom I've spent more time over the past few weeks. I hugged Elle and asked her to go back and wait for her mom in the hall. Grinning she waved bye and walked out.
Half-way through serving muffins, I felt a familiar squeeze around my waist, this time not Elle but her younger brother "Jay." "Do you remember when I asked you to be my City Year?" he shouted with a massive grin. Of course I did. And glancing to my left I saw Elle standing with "Emm" and "Chris," her sister and cousin in first grade, standing by to say hi, too.
Jay was referring to Literacy Night back in December. He arrived with his family, hugged me on his way in, and asked me to be his City Year. Also at the event with his family was a girl wearing a red City Year jacket. I asked Elle who she was and was introduced to the much talked of Ms. B, their City Year from last year who was visiting. I said goodbye to Jay and his family when they left. Though I say Hi in the halls, I don't see him often because he's in 2nd grade and I'm on the opposite side of school in third. I didn't know he remembered that moment.
When the moms left, the four of them came back to my table. "Did you give her my letter?" Elle asked. "Ms. B loves your letter," I told her. All four of them grinned and I recognized a piece of City Year. We're given the opportunity to not only make an impact, but to continue that of our predecessors. For the first month of school, new AmeriCorps Members are mistaken for the previous team's. We laugh/get frustrated that the kids don't/can't learn our names. At times we think it's cute; at others, not so much. But whatever our name is, Ms. B or Ms. K (I still get Ms. C, too), we are always City Year. We're just the generations wearing the red jacket.
I hope my students remember me. I hope that Elle, Jay, Emm, and Chris do too. But I'm not their only City Year. I know there'll be another red jacket coming along to take my place. I know that they'll always be loved and guided.
Last year, Ms. B wore the red jacket for many. This year, my team and I do the same. Next year, "our" students and "our" starfish will perhaps remember us and eventually know the new team. But regardless of who wears the red jacket, I know the students at Melrose will always have a City Year. I know that, regardless of who fills our boots next, the khakis and red jackets will continue to walk the halls and sit in classrooms, building on the foundation of prior generations.