My family raised my little brother and me in Fort Valley, a small town in Peach County, Georgia. When I was 18, I moved to Baton Rouge to attend Southern University on a track scholarship. I majored in business and joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. where we did volunteer work on campus and across the city. I particularly enjoyed getting to know the kids in the Baton Rouge community when we were part of a Dress for Success initiative.
During my senior year in college, I attended a career fair where I met a City Year recruiter. When she told me about City Year’s national service opportunities, I knew I wanted to join. Fortunately, City Year accepted me and deployed me to my first choice of location, City Year Baton Rouge!
Now I am one of 8 City Year Baton Rouge AmeriCorps members serving 325 ninth-grade students at Broadmoor High School. This is City Year’s first year partnering with Broadmoor High School, though we’ve served at Broadmoor Middle School since 2011. Our expansion to Broadmoor High is supported by a contribution from AT&T. Now that City Year is in both schools, we are able to help students have an easier transition to high school, often a challenging experience.
Our work is especially meaningful because the school community has had so many challenges beginning with Katrina in 2005 and running through the catastrophic flooding of 2016. I am proud to be able to serve them.
Most of our work is foundation-building, setting down systems and procedures, and especially relationships, that will serve the corps this year and into the future. Team members and I serve full time in the school, tutoring students one-on-one, providing in-class support, helping students develop social-emotional skills, and leading after-school programs. We also run school-wide initiatives to create a culture of high expectation for the whole school.
Broadmoor High suffered after the flood as other schools did throughout Louisiana. Students, teachers, and administrators all lost things dear to their hearts. Some lost more than others, but as a whole all of Broadmoor High feels the scar that the flood has left behind. Staff members have done a great job getting the school back into a routine.
Since AmeriCorps members are closer in age to our students than other adults in the school, we develop special connections to them. These types of relationships are important and often can help students choose to stay in school and on track to graduate.
City Year Baton Rouge’s expansion into Broadmoor High School was possible because of the generous support of AT&T and its signature philanthropic initiative focused on student success, AT&T Aspire. A longstanding national supporter of City Year, AT&T’s total investment in City Year is more than $1.28 million this school year alone. In addition to Broadmoor High, AT&T is helping City Year serve more schools in Cleveland, Denver, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. AT&T’s support also allowed City Year to expand to Dallas, Columbus, Little Rock, and Sacramento. AT&T employees are working with City Year’s Care Force on volunteer events to further invest in the communities of Hyattsville, MD, Miami, Orlando, and my personal favorite – Baton Rouge. The support from AT&T and its employees is a powerful motivation.
Ryann Denham, City Year Baton Rouge Executive Director and Vice President, praised AT&T for its support: “Public-private collaborations like the one between AT&T and City Year are vital for ensuring academic success and graduation for all students.”
We’ve only been at Broadmoor High School for a few months, but so far our efforts have been well-received. “It is such a blessing to our students to have City Year here on campus,” said Troy Boatner, Broadmoor High School Principal.” They have become part of the Broadmoor family.”
The word family is key for me and is at the heart of why I joined City Year. I see the face of my little brother in the students I support at Broadmoor High. One of my students particularly reminds me of my little brother. She demonstrates strong academic potential, but resists nearly all offers of help. I am being persistent, however. I’m trying to start to know her learning style and what motivates her. The good news is that we are building trust and are sure to make headway in the coming months. I know if my brother had had a City Year AmeriCorps member back in his classroom in Peach County, he would have worked a little harder and gotten into less trouble.
Family is the reason I get up early and report to Broadmoor High School with the rest of my team every morning. It makes me try to be the best possible tutor, mentor and role model for my students. It is why I serve.
Story by Trey Fluellen, City Year Baton Rouge AmeriCorps Member serving at Broadmoor High School
Edited by Jennifer Jordan, Communications Director and Writer, City Year