By: Beth Rollow 2nd Year AmeriCorps Member Serving at City Year Dallas
I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, and I was taught to avoid many neighborhoods in the city, neighborhoods in which City Year now serves. During college, I began to see that my viewpoint was misguided and I wanted to truly form my own opinions about the world around me. When I heard that City Year was starting a site in Dallas, I was excited at the opportunity to get to know more of the Dallas community. When I arrived at Spruce High School, I was blown away not by the differences between my high school and this one, but by all of the similarities. The students I saw were there to learn, to persevere, and to work toward a better future for themselves.
I served as one of the twenty AmeriCorps members with City Year Dallas, and being a part of a startup City Year site was exciting. We were the beginning of change in a community, and that was inspiring. It didn’t come without it's challenges, though. As the first City Year team in our school, our team had to work with the school, our teachers and our students to determine and define our role. The first few months required a lot of flexibility, but after that initial period we began to feel at home and were able to start making a strong impression on the school.
My favorite part of City Year is my work in the schoolhouse. Our role as tutors and mentors allows us to support everyone, to inject positivity into every moment of the day. We have the opportunity to be champions for our students, to be sounding boards for our teachers, and to support our administration’s cultural and academic initiatives. In our short time at Spruce, I can say that we have--without a doubt--had a huge impact, and that’s an incredible feeling.
Our startup year lasted six months, and I didn’t feel as though I finished what I started. Our students crave consistency, and I didn’t want to be someone who came in for six months and then left them. I wanted to be able to tell them that I was coming back, that I would be there for them for another year. Their continued growth and the opportunity to continuing supporting them has really made my second year special.
This year, our founding year, has definitely been different from our startup experience. The foundation we laid in Dallas last year allowed us to do more for our schools and our community.
Fifty Americorps members serving with five schools does not make us a large City Year site, but the change we’ve helped create feels enormous. I am very happy to have served as a City Year AmeriCorps member. The opportunity to work on a team of dedicated young people, to support incredible students and to have a positive impact on an entire school has been amazing. I can’t wait to see the impact that City Year will have on the students, schools, and communities of Dallas in the years to come.
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