Written by Derrek Studebaker, City Year Alumnus

One of the lines in our City Year pledge says “provide excellent service.” This always appeared to be ambiguous to me. How could I know if I was providing excellent service? I would fall into the trap that so many of us do: relativism. I only compared how I was doing to how others were. I failed to recognize that while we had similar jobs, we were in different situations. Each classroom, AmeriCorps member, and student changed how the job was performed.

This spring I finally accepted that what made my service excellent was the impact I had with my students. It didn't matter if someone else had better or worse data or relationships than me. I could see how I had affected my students. I could see their growth as people and as students. What made my service excellent was that my students are better than they were and so am I.

It is inevitable that we see others around us and compare ourselves to them. We want to be the best. However, as we focus on others, we leave ourselves behind. The key aspect to excellence is that we focus on ourselves and do our best.

Derrek Studebaker served on the New Schools for Baton Rouge Team at Claiborne Elementary School. Next year, Derrek will begin his undergraduate studies at Utah Valley University. 

Share This Page