We are gearing up for the start of a new school year as the team of City Year AmeriCorps members prepare to guide eager, bright students in 29 cities across the country on their journeys. These journeys are sure to be filled with challenges and triumphs that will aid in the growth of both the student and the AmeriCorps member. Valuable lessons will be learned and strong bonds will be formed. AmeriCorps members, at the end of their service year, will find themselves talking about their “starfish students”…the students who showed significant improvement and made a lasting impact on their lives. 

Here is a look back on a few of those starfish stories that reflect the power of the City Year Red Jacket:

Getting to the Green

by Taj Taher, City Year Seattle '17

City Year AmeriCorps members are not placed in the schools to save students, as their students do not need saving. Rather, they need role models and mentors to show them that they already possess greatness and immense potential within.

[quote] He didn’t do it to please me and receive my praise, as so many students do. Instead, JD was moved by his ideals of respect and equality. When I had humbled myself by seeking his help, I displayed my conviction that children are as capable (if not more than) as adults. [end quote]


by Shannon Gardner, City Year Seattle '17

Our hope is that every student understands that they are smart and capable. They are the next generation of leaders, artists, scientists, and catalysts of positive change. Nurturing this mindset starts in the classroom.

[quote] My wish is for Celia to look in the mirror and see someone staring back at her. May she accept and love that special person in the mirror, knowing full well that she is enough (and then some) for this world, exactly as she is. [end quote]

Starfish Story

by Sarah Oleisky, City Year Columbus '17, '18

It is our stories and experiences that connect us on a deeper level and remind us that our humanity is indeed tied to one another

[quote] After hearing his story, I had never empathized with a student so much—we had both experienced an unimaginable loss due to gun violence. I felt his anger and pain. That day we both gained a deeper understanding and connection with each other. [end quote]

Gifts From My Starfish

by Mallory Orr, City Year Baton Rouge '17

When the service year comes to an end for our AmeriCorps members, they walk away with the memories and lessons they attained while building relationships with their students every day. These “gifts” are priceless and remind them of the power of young people and the City Year Red Jacket. 

[quote] Not only have I been blessed with the chance to watch him evolve, but he has also taught me so much in return. As I reflect on the time I have spent with him this semester, I am so grateful to him for giving me three major gifts that I know will serve me through the rest of this year... [end quote]

City Year AmeriCorps members make a lasting impact on their students, but they often learn even more than they teach. Have what it takes to make a difference for students and for yourself? Apply today.

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