If you’re thinking about applying to serve with City Year Columbus, that’s great! There are so many great reasons to live in Columbus, including more than 300 festivals every year, beautiful parks, big museums, delicious food and great sports.
But more importantly, there are 50,915 talented students in Columbus City Schools who need your support to be successful and reach their full potential. In Columbus, nearly a quarter of students do not graduate from high school because of a variety of factors, many of which are beyond their control, such as poverty or homelessness. Every time a student does not graduate from school, it has a lasting effect not only on that student’s ability to succeed in college, career and life, but also on our communities and country as a whole.
The good news is that you can be a part of the solution by joining City Year Columbus and helping to support students and expand educational equity. Since 1994, City Year Columbus has deployed more than 800 AmeriCorps members to serve in Columbus City Schools where they have helped thousands of students stay on track in math and English, improve their social-emotional skills and reach their full potential.
Keep reading to hear from a few City Year AmeriCorps members on five of the best things about serving with City Year Columbus.
You will meet inspiring and resilient students.
City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member, Mia Karam, shares her experience in building relationships with her students:
“There was a student who I met the very first day of school,” Mia says. “He was labeled as ‘complicated’ and ‘difficult to deal with’ because of regular anger outbursts.” Throughout the first few weeks of school, Mia regularly checked in with this student, asking him how he was feeling and if he wanted to talk. “At first he would just tell me to leave him alone, but as time went on, I found him coming up to me to initiate conversation.”
Then one day, another boy in the class ran to the back of the room crying as many other students made fun of him. The student Mia had been working with for a few months came over to her, tugged at her red jacket and motioned for her to come closer. “As I bent down he said, “I’m going to be friends with him!” He was pointing across the room at the student whom the rest of the class had been making fun of all morning. “I don’t like that people make fun of him,” he continued, “I want to be his friend.”
In that moment,” says Mia, “I was more proud of my students than ever before.”
You will experience rewarding and memorable moments.
City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member, Courtney Kent, shares moments of joy from her work to support students who have experienced behavioral issues at school. Corps members receive training and learn how to provide individual and group sessions designed to help students accelerate their social-emotional development, which includes helping students set goals, regulate their emotions, build relationships and make decisions—skills that are necessary for success in school, college and career.
“While discussing trust in one of my behavior interventions, a student told me that she trusts me,” Courtney says. “In the moment, I thanked her and kept on with the lesson, but that moment meant a lot to me. This is a student who does not trust many adults or many of her peers, so it was a big deal for her to share that. This student and I have been working to develop a great relationship.”
You will get involved and make a difference in schools.
Viridiana Saenz talks about the different ways being a City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member has allowed her to get involved in different events and activities at school and help students to celebrate their identities.
“After starting my first days of service at the school, I heard about the [Latino student] club and decided to join without hesitation,” Viridiana says. “The club is comprised of a small group of students. I was very surprised to see they were a significant minority in the school, so I knew I had to do something to represent their culture.
“Another AmeriCorps member was also interested in joining the group,” she says. “Taking advantage of my first-hand experience of growing up in Mexico, we brainstormed ideas to represent the Hispanic community in the school. We realized that the Day of the Death, best known as El Dia de los Muertos, was around the corner and proposed to make an altar. The students were very excited about the idea and wanted to do the altar for their loved ones who were no longer with them. The day of the altar, each student brought something to decorate, and it turned out well.”
You will learn and grow.
Colleen Gilfether shares some of the things she has learned through her year of service as a City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member.
“Throughout your service year, you will encounter every kind of different. Different race. Different beliefs. Different teaching-styles. Different life experiences. Differences are everywhere,” says Colleen. However, by learning to sympathize and relate to someone else’s experiences, she found many similarities she shared with people who looked or sounded very “different” from her.
“It is through collaboration, inquiry and an empathetic approach that we understand those around us and we are able to ground our work,” Colleen says. “Through empathy, City Year AmeriCorps members are able to advocate and amplify their students’ voices, while also remaining true to their personal leadership mission. We are able to connect with our service on the most personal levels, as we begin to celebrate the small achievements, like a student showing up to all of their classes in one day.”
You will be a part of a diverse and dynamic team.
Teamwork and collaboration are essential values at City Year. Alexia Santiago talks about how she learned the importance of teamwork as a City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member:
“In my time here the importance of a team or community has been stressed and emphasized. A team dynamic can greatly influence the impact we have on the students,” Alexia says. “If your team is not consistent, it can create confusion in group settings, and students may get the idea that the real purpose or goal is unclear.”
“We have all been challenged to work collaboratively with coworkers of many different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs,” she says. ‘I am grateful to have already formed a connection with my team…I feel as though I am part of something bigger. My humanity is tied to yours.”
Between meeting inspiring students, building strong relationships, making a difference in schools, learning from others and joining an amazing team, your year of service will be incredibly rewarding.
So, what are you waiting for? Apply to join City Year Columbus today!