As 2015 draws to a close, we're taking a look back. Below are four key insights our AmeriCorps members had in their service throughout the year.

Play the long game. "Part of what makes City Year special is that AmeriCorps members show up every single day with unconditional energy and joy. One does not change a student’s life by having one huge conversation on the first day you meet that student. Instead, change is gradual. We are able to support a student by doing the little things with excellence every day." - Chris Azzolino '15, The Trim Tab Factor

Small things add up. "Every day I support the students in my classroom; I answer questions, help set goals, discuss behavior, and explain how to use a dictionary. At times it is difficult to see the growth of my students from day to day, but the small things matter. Throughout the year I have done my best to learn the names of students who are not in my classroom. So when I walk down the hallway and say “hello” to students, they smile and say “hello” back. I may not get to have the same opportunity to build close relationships with these students, but I know that I have made some sort of impact." - Christina Stuart '15, 5 Surprises About Service

A great leader has both ambition and humility. "Level Five Leadership may be City Year’s hardest-to-understand cardinal value. To understand this value more fully, I talked to my Impact Manager. When asked what Level Five Leadership means to her, she said, 'When something goes poorly, that leader is able to say "That was my mistake. Here’s why it did not go well, and that’s my mistake," rather than placing blame on others. On the flipside, when there is success, a Level Five Leader does not say "Oh yeah, that’s something that I did," and "I made sure that this happened," but instead, "this was the success of the team," or "here’s where this person really stood out."" - Maria Cassidy, Level 5 Leadership

The difference you make might not be what you originally expected. "A 'starfish student' is a student with a measurable success story—failing to passing, below grade level to back on track. When my team leader asked me who one of my starfish students was, I voiced the nagging fear of every corps member—what if I don’t have one? What if I’m not making a difference? But then my team leader said, "What about art?" and that got me thinking- maybe my starfish “difference” is an idea: art matters, and your art matters. You are doing something you care about, and it is legitimate and important and special." - Molly Haig '15, A Starfish Idea

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