by Leah Hall, AmeriCorps member serving on the State Street Foundation team with Higginson/Lewis K-8 School

In the time that I have served with City Year, I have learned so much about my students. They are intelligent, clever, and the things they do and say almost always take me by pleasant surprise. When I gave my 5th-grade student, Vanessa*, the opportunity to be a mini-reporter, I was proud that she rose to the occasion and came up with some really good questions.

Vanessa* (V): Is City Year a college?
Leah Hall (LH): Not quite. We’re an organization that cares about students so much that we spend an entire year serving in schools all around the country. Boston is just one of the twenty-six cities where City Year is. We also have a couple of sites outside of the country as well.

V: Where do you all go on Fridays? We miss you!
: On Fridays my team and I have trainings with the other AmeriCorps members. That’s our time to learn how we can offer the best support to our teachers and classes. But don’t worry, we miss being at school too.

V: Are you friends with your team? Do you spend a lot of time together?
LH: I love my team! Everyone is very nice. We spend almost every day together. Most of us take public transportation to get to and from our houses, so we’ll usually travel together. When we’re not at school, we make plans too. We love having group potlucks and eating together.

V: What do you like to do when you get home?
LH: I usually spend most of my time getting ready for school the next morning, but when I have free time, I love to read, write, go running, and spend time with my friends.

Then it was my turn to interview her.

LH: Is this your first year having a City Year AmeriCorps member in your classroom?
V: No, I’ve had an AmeriCorps member in my class since third grade. I remember seeing them around even before that, though.

LH: How is it going this year?
V: Great! I like that you help us with math. I also think it’s nice to have someone to talk to during class and lunch, and to play with at recess.

LH: What is your favorite class?
V: I like art class and math. I like art because we get to color and be creative, and I like math because I like the extra work and problem solving.

LH: What do you like to do when you’re not in school?
V: I like going on the computer, going outside, listening to music, and playing with my baby brother.

LH: What do you want to be when you grow up?
V: I think I want to be a photographer.

LH: Do you think you would want to do City Year when you’re older?
V: Probably, yeah. I want to help students just like you do.

She may not have known it at the time, but the way Vanessa answered my last question made my service all the more meaningful. Belief in the Power of Young People is one of City Year’s ten values. Its purpose is to remind us that although they are young, our students are full of thoughts and ideas that can create significant change in our world. Vanessa reminded me of this value when she highlighted the impact that City Year has had on her, and expressed an interest in possibly doing the same for future students just like her.


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