By Emma Daniels, AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America team with Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School

Always thank people - right away! - PITW #166

One main piece of City Year’s culture is PITWs - a collection of ideas that embody “putting idealism to work.” There are 182 PITWs, pieces of City Year wisdom that guide our service and serve as a reference for ways to implement our mission in our daily work.

I have many favorite PITWs, but PITW #166 always stands out to me, embodying the importance and power of gratitude. There are so many people who I’m grateful for this year, who have been fundamental to my happiness and success during my (almost complete!) City Year.

My Team
This year, my team has been a support system, a constant source of humor and laughter (really, see our funny photo above), and most importantly, kick-butt collaborators. After seeing our team dynamic, my sister said, “You guys are obsessed with each other.” She’s not wrong. Even on the coldest March day, walking into our team room early in the morning, I have always been warmed and refreshed by the presence of my teammates. And I’m so grateful for the ways in which each one of them have made our service better: from creating colorful data-themed candy displays, to collaborating with non-partner teachers (teachers whose classrooms we do not directly serve with) to increase our time with students, to giving guitar lessons to students before the service day officially begins.

My Leadership
I can’t imagine the trajectory of my City Year without my team leaders and program manager. From the beginning of service, Hope Landry, Jackie Clements, and Kevin Tucker have supported me and my team, whether it be by informal check-ins or creating structures (like action plans on Google docs) for success. They have also led by example, with an emphasis on working urgently. They inspire our team to both get things done and have fun. Lastly, I appreciate how they have kept small things small, not escalating minor conflicts or mistakes. This has allowed myself and my team to focus on what’s important: our service and our students.

My “IJ” Group
One key component of City Year’s Learning and Development Days is the “Idealist’s Journey,” commonly known as IJ. IJ is a space for AmeriCorps members to reflect on their service with individuals doing the program who are not on their team. I appreciate my IJ group for their honesty, and the ways in which they have provided perspective on my service, giving me a glimpse into other teams’ City Year experiences.

Young Achievers Staff
City Year is all about partnership. I am so grateful for the many staff members at Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School with whom I have formed partnerships with this year. For example, my partner teacher, Ms. Whitney, has always welcomed me so warmly into her classroom community, and taught me so much about teaching literature and writing in an engaging, structured, accessible way. Another classroom partner is Ms Rowe, a community teacher in the room, who is fun, friendly, and dedicated to all of the students in the class, even though her job is to be a 1:1 support for a specific student. I am also grateful for the support, guidance, and example of Mr. Gomes, one of the school’s deans of students, who models how to balance holding students to high standards while emphasizing empathy and respect. Lastly, among many other kick-butt school partners, I am grateful for our after school science consultant, Kristin, who brings our team her warmth, energy, and creative lesson plans.

Our Students
Lastly, I am grateful for our students. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such energetic, enthusiastic “kiddos,” with so many talents. Every day, these young scholars teach me new things: a new way to look at a character in a book, a great joke (“Have you heard about the kidnapping? It’s okay! He woke up), that all the planets that are “gas giants” have rings…they also model how to be supportive, namely with encouraging words and a smile.

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