2016-01-07

By Maddie Scharff, AmeriCorps member serving on the State Street Foundation team with Higginson/Lewis K-8 School

An Interview with Ms. Gabby

“If you’re looking for a delicious meal and coffee, iced or hot, Haley House is the place to go,” says Ms. Gabby. “It’s my favorite place to eat in Roxbury. The first time I ate there was with my service team during City Year’s Basic Training Academy. You have to get the mac n’ cheese.”

Ms. Gabby is a first year AmeriCorps member serving at the Higginson/Lewis K-8 in a 4th-grade classroom. She serves beside 11 other corps members along with their impact manager and team leader. Apart from tutoring and mentoring, Ms. Gabby and her team members strive to instill the school’s motto, ROAR, into the daily lives of each student. Responsibility, ownership, accountability, and respect are not innate behaviors though. They’re learned behaviors and they’re learned through building meaningful relationships. Students who have meaningful relationships with their teachers, paraprofessionals, city year, and other school staff, will learn to excel at demonstrating ROAR because they know they have constant support and love.

She continues on about a few of her other favorite things in Roxbury. Her favorite street is “the one with the huge mural near the Dudley bus station.” The mural depicts the faces of Roxbury locals during the 1990s next to historical figures such as Ima Lewis, Melnea Cass, and Malcolm X.

Her favorite hangout is the Boston Public Library Dudley Branch. “If I have work to get done after service I can easily walk over there. The staff is super friendly and children and students are always hanging out there even if they aren’t doing homework. It’s a safe place.”

“Before it started to become dark at 4 p.m., there were amazing purple, pink, and orange sunsets on my commute home near Roxbury Crossing. I’m looking forward to seeing those sunsets again because then I’ll know I’ve made it through winter!”

Now that Ms. Gabby has been serving in the Roxbury community for 3 months, she feels her connection to the place goes deeper than a few of her favorite things.

City Year Boston (CYB): During Basic Training Academy, you and your service team visited Roxbury to get a feel for the community and the culture of the people who live in the neighborhood. Would you say Roxbury made a good first impression?

Ms. Gabby: Roxbury definitely made a great first impression. We all walked from Dudley Station to school and I remember several residents slowing down their cars and rolling down their windows to tell us hello. Other locals stopped us on the sidewalks to tell us how much they appreciated us working with their children. That said a lot to me about the sense of community.

CYB: I’ve been hearing some good things about the bus driver who services your daily commute to school.

Ms. Gabby: You could say I’ve befriended Denise—that’s the name of the woman who drives the bus I take every morning. We talk about her own daughter, who did City Year several years ago. It’s so welcoming to have a friendly face to chat with in the morning.

CYB: How have you seen Roxbury and the school you serve at overlap?

Ms. Gabby:  I’m always hearing students talk about local parks and sports leagues they play on. The teachers and staff at Higginson/Lewis are incredible about knowing families from the area and keeping them in the loop and really working to know even the extended families of all the students on a personal level.

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