2016-01-14

by Rosie Levenson, AmeriCorps member on the Bain Capital Team

An Interview with my TL (Team Leader)

Rosie Levenson (RL): Hi! What's your name and where are you from?
Kiraleah Page Fendell (KPF): My name is Kiraleah Page Fendell. I am from Jamaica Plain in Boston, Massachusetts.

RL: Why City Year?
KPF: I chose City Year because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t feel like it was worth staying in undergrad if I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree, so after my first year of college I decided to do City Year. City Year appealed to me as a one year gap year program and it involved youth which I knew I wanted to look into more.

RL: What is your position?
KPF: I am a team leader. A team leader is a resource for first year City Year AmeriCorps members. We help them navigate everything from data inputting, to student relationships, and provide general emotional support.

RL: What was your favorite part about your first year?
KPF: Absolutely my students; they were my love and joy. I built really strong relationships with my students and got to see them grow. I also learned about what kind of work I wanted to do and what populations I wanted to continue working with. The students made such a lasting impact on me; they were what I looked forward to every day.

RL: What have you enjoyed about being a TL?
KPF: I love being able to watch my team build strong relationships with students and become invested in their classroom community. As a TL you build very different skills than as a CM, which will be helpful for my career.

RL: Any surprises or challenges about being a TL that you didn't expect?
KPF: 
I think it’s hard to change positions but still serve in the same environment. I served my first year at the same school where I am now. I associate the school with working with students, and now I am primarily working with adults. I’m also surprised at how okay I am with that, and how watching my team make an impact on our students is just as satisfying as working with the students myself.

RL: How are you able to support your CMs as a TL?
KPF: I check in with them a lot! I think that one of the most important things I can do for them is be there as a resource if needed, stay positive,  and make sure they know there is no such thing as a stupid question.

RL: How do you like to motivate your team?
KPF: Love and feels. Mostly silliness because this is a tough job and if you don’t laugh, it’s hard to get through the long days. Laughing helps everyone do that!

RL: What is your favorite culture piece at City Year?
KPF: Ripples, joys, and appreciations. A ripple is anything that gets passed through more than two people relating to City Year,  a joy is a happy moment during the day, and an appreciation is a way of expressing gratitude towards another person.  Especially once my Corps Members started working with students, I love hearing their joys because it reminds me why we are here.

RL: Tips and tricks for anyone who wants to become a TL?
KPF: Buy or make the best planner that money can or cannot buy! Pinterest also has a bunch of free printable schedules. Know where you are supposed to be every minute of the day.

RL: What is your favorite food?
KPF: Coffee.

RL: What is your animal likeness?
KPF: The quokka: a small, incredibly happy and smiley fluff ball.

RL: Why is education important to you?
KPF: I think that knowledge is power. I’m really invested in finding ways to create equity in our education system. I don’t think that there is any one way to fix the systems currently in place but I do believe that being there for the students everyday and giving them our all is part of that.

RL: What does social justice mean to you?
KPF: It means fighting against the institutionalized injustices and systems of oppression in our society.

RL: How do you see yourself or your peers making an impact every day?
KPF: I think just showing up and being a constant presence is half of the battle. If the students know that they can rely on us, we can make far more of an impact that way than through any other avenue.

RL: What are your plans after City Year as a TL?
KPF: I'm going to return to undergrad at Boston University and study bilingual education (with the intent to be a teacher in urban education setting).

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