by Aria Brennan, AmeriCorps member serving on the MFS Investment Management team with McCormack Middle School

City Year AmeriCorps members help our schools extend learning time for our students by coordinating after school programs that include homework support and enrichment activities.

We were ten minutes into our after school program, and already six people were clamoring for my attention. Through all this, I noticed Shania*, looking worried, but waiting patiently. I addressed the other students, then turned to her.

“Miss, can I take a walk with you?” she asked. The room had settled, so I agreed.

“What’s going on?”

“Why don’t you kick Minh* out of the program? She doesn’t follow any of the rules.”

Admittedly, Minh, another 7th-grader, wasn’t the best at following rules just yet.

“We want Minh to stay, because we like helping all of you learn and have a good time. Obviously, if we can’t keep a student safe—any student—we’re not able to have them here. But we want to give everyone a chance.”

“She doesn’t deserve one.”

“Maybe it won’t work out. But my favorite thing about City Year is that we give people chances, even when we don’t know what they’ll do with them.”

We walked back silently. Minh and Shania haven’t become best friends, but later that afternoon Shania patiently reminded Minh of the rules when she got off track, instead of criticizing her or getting impatient. It’s a start.


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