|Zandra Casto, City Year Columbus Impact Manager|
|Ksenija Taylor, City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member|
Working on a team, receiving feedback and strategic planning are all key components of the City Year AmeriCorps member role. Across all our sites, every team is led by an Impact Manager. Their job is to support their team in keeping students on track to graduation, to establish positive relationships with school partners and to provide leadership development to their AmeriCorps members. To highlight how City Year AmeriCorps members are supported by their Impact Managers on a daily basis, we caught up with Ksenija Taylor, who currently serves with City Year Columbus, and her Impact Manager, Zandra Casto.
As a senior Impact Manager at City Year Columbus, Zandra manages two teams at Champion Middle School and Trevitt Elementary School. Altogether, Zandra leads and coaches a total of 14 AmeriCorps members through their 11-month journey of service, learning and reflection. Here are some aspects and responsibilities of the Impact Manager role:
Organizes Regular, One-on-One Meetings
Zandra sets a very routinized and consistent tone with her team to ensure expectations are clear. For the first few months of service, Zandra meets with members of her team on an individual basis every other week (on alternate weeks, AmeriCorps members meet with their Team Leaders). “Check-ins are vital,” Zandra said. “In my very first check in with AmeriCorps members, I ask them to talk about what they are trying to get out of their City Year experience and what has brought them here. Through my check-ins, I am very intentional about building trust.”
Offers Performance-based Feedback
After the first few months of service, Zandra switches to meeting with her team members once a month. During these check-ins, Zandra shifts the conversations to include more service-focused topics such as lesson planning, interventions and providing performance-based feedback. As an Impact Manager, she highly values the observation and coaching aspect of her role. It allows her to debrief situations with her team and address specific things aimed at improving their roles in the classroom and growing as leaders.
Ksenija Taylor is a currently serving City Year Columbus AmeriCorps member on Zandra’s Trevitt Elementary School team. Ksenija believes the support from her manager is a crucial part of her success as a City Year AmeriCorps member. “During our check-ins, Zandra always begins by asking me if there is anything I need. She wants to make sure that I am okay, and that I can do my best for my students.”
Lately, Ksenija has been creating a lot of flashcards to help her students study and learn. Knowing this, Zandra has gone out of her way to see if Ksenija needs any extra materials or needs anything printed at the office. “If I need anything to support my students, Zandra makes sure I can get it.”
Helps You Build the Necessary Skills for Future Jobs
As a manager, Zandra ensures that her team knows she’s there to support them during their time at City Year and beyond. She constantly reminds her team that City Year is a unique experience – where they can build and develop a wide variety of skills.
She helps connect them to people and projects that will focus and refine the skills and connections that will help her team reach their future career goals. For example, after learning about Ksenija’s interest in attending graduate school before pursuing a career in higher education/student affairs, Zandra connected her to another staff member at City Year Columbus who had already gone down that same path. Through this connection, Ksenija was able to gain insight and advice about her grad school application and her future career path.
According to Ksenija, “Zandra does a really great job of managing two different teams and still being there for all of us. She is the main reason why I applied to return to serve a second year with City Year Columbus.”
Impact Managers are just one support system for AmeriCorps members. Partner teachers, teammates and City Year staff are also there to help each AmeriCorps member grow as a mentor and as a young professional.