Before Allison Paul joined our Alumni Board, she powerfully served as a City Year Boston AmeriCorps member ('15 and '16) at the Young Achievers Math and Science Pilot K-8 School in Mattapan. After graduating from Boston College with B.A. in Sociology, Allison answered the call to service as a mentor and role model in a 7th and 8th-grade math classroom, with who she calls "the best partner teacher!" The partner teacher she collaborated with was Jenna Hadley, a fellow CYB alum. Together, they showed up for students and helped them develop the skills and mindsets they need to thrive in school and life. Allison continues that work now in her current role as a trainer for the Posse Foundation. We had the chance to catch up with Allison to see how her service year has influenced her personally and professionally.
City Year Boston (CYB): What was a typical day during your corps year like?
Allison Paul (AP): We held first circle at 7:45 AM and then would go outside to greet the buses. I was lucky because our school had an intervention block in the morning where I would get to work with my students in a two-on-one setting on literacy. This was a critical time for me to deepen relationships with the middle school students. I provided whole-class support in their math classroom in the morning and after lunch periods. Once a week at lunch, I worked with a small group of 8th grade girls where we focused on building community, empathy, and communication skills. My favorite part of the day was to help lead the after-school program. Aside from the weekly homework help, we went to the Mattapan library with twelve middle school students to get them all library cards before the summer started. That’s one of my favorite service memories.
CYB: What were your favorite aspects or key takeaways from service?
AP: I came to City Year because of the emphasis on teamwork. In college, I played rugby and wanted to find a team-based environment as I transitioned out of college. City Year offered me exactly that. My favorite part of service was that my team was there every morning to open my day with me and every night to reflect on the day. They were there to talk through challenges, give me new ideas, and make me laugh throughout the year. I value the learning that comes in a team-based environment: how to communicate with people that are different from you, how to use each other’s strengths to be more successful as a group, and how to find joy in the little things each day.
CYB: Tell me about your career path leading up to your current role.
AP: I currently work for an education non-profit called The Posse Foundation. In my current role, I recruit students from the greater Boston area for a college scholarship and then support those students throughout their college career. City Year taught me the skills I use in my work with students through different challenges they may face. I’ve learned how to ask thoughtful questions to students to empower them to choose the next best steps for themselves. One thing that I keep as the focus of my work is ensuring that students believe in themselves and their abilities because they can succeed in anything when they start with that mindset.
CYB: How have you applied your learnings from your corps year to your life after City Year?
AP: City Year taught me some of the most important lessons I have learned thus far. It reinforced my passion for working with students in a mentoring capacity, which is a major part of the job I have now. More importantly, it taught me to find joy in the small things every day. During my corps year, our team had a book of “Happy Things” where we wrote down the things that made us laugh throughout the year. That mentality of finding things that bring joy is something I have carried with me after City Year. There is always something to make you smile — you just have to focus on finding it!
CYB: How do you support City Year today and why do you choose to stay involved?
AP: City Year changed my life. I met some of my best friends at City Year, I learned so much about myself, and the students I worked with taught me lessons I carry close to my heart. The alumni community has been a support for me professionally and personally as I transitioned from my service year into my current role. I choose to stay involved because I want current AmeriCorps members to have as valuable of an experience as I did. I currently serve on City Year Boston’s Alumni Board and work on planning different events to keep the alumni community engaged with City Year, as well as events that keep current AmeriCorps members connected to the alumni community.