Our 265 AmeriCorps members partner with many teachers in Boston Public Schools, all working toward fostering the growth of our students and believing in their abilties as young people. At the same time that our AmeriCorps members are serving as mentors and role models to students, their partner teachers are doing the same by showing what good leadership, collaboration and teaching look like. Join us for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6, 2016) as we share a few of the reasons why we #ThankATeacher.
Energy and Community Dedication
As a classroom teacher, Ms. Andrews can be found energetically supporting her own students and encouraging them to embrace challenge as a means to gain deeper understanding. But she is also happy to support any students in the school. Her teaching style is focused on fun and creativity and getting students to engage with material in different ways. One example is what we call a “carousel activity” – she brings in supplies and posters that relate to a topic being covered in class, then encourages students to visit each station and engage with other students in dialogue, allowing for multiple perspectives and deep discussion. Another example of her fun and creative teaching style is field trips; when our class visited Legoland, it helped students see math in a new way,
Her students know that she high expectations of them and she balances that with a high level of support – from lunch office hours to recess tutoring. As a result, students are maintaining high standards for the work they submit and are actively finding new opportunities to excel.
Beyond the classroom, Ms. Andrews dedicates herself to fostering a strong school community. She collaborated with another teacher to create a standard for Grew Time – an assembly that engages families to come to the school and celebrate students that have demonstrated one of our school virtues. She is also a member of our school’s Family and Community Team, where she goes above and beyond to ensure that events always go smoothly for families, whether that means collecting donations, organizing schedules, or reaching out to families in the days leading up to those events. It is ultimately these efforts that help make school more than a learning space, but a place where a whole community can support each other's success.
—Amara Sardelli, AmeriCorps member serving on the Trustey Family team with Grew Elementary School
Setting All Students Up for Success
This year, I am lucky enough to serve in Ms. Curry’s 7th-grade English language arts (ELA) class. When I entered City Year, I knew I would be doing a lot of learning. I expected to learn from my impact manager and team leader, my teammates, and my students. What surprised me was what a huge difference a fantastic partner teacher makes in the City Year experience, and how much I would be learning from her.
Ms. Curry is always responsive to our students’ needs. We have several students with special learning and behavioral needs, and many of these students (and others in the class) thrive in the structured routine Ms. Curry has established. Since they are given clear expectations, students know exactly what to do in order to be successful in ELA each day.
I also appreciate Ms. Curry’s strong ability to connect with students. If students have trouble with a concept or idea, she knows how to connect it back to things our students care about. When I am struggling to support student on my focus list, I know I can ask her for advice or information, and get a new perspective.
Thank you, Ms. Curry, for giving our students what they need to realize their potential, and teaching me the tools to do the same.
—Arya Brennan, AmeriCorps member serving on the MFS Investment Management team with McCormack Middle School
Going Above and Beyond
Mr. Boucher is the most passionate teacher I have encountered. He is an ideal teacher who prioritizes his students’ success. He has a great relationship with parents and will call them just to check in and make sure everything is going okay at home. He consistently goes above and beyond the expectations of any teacher and it shows through his work ethic and passion for the class.
I am so incredibly lucky to have been placed in this classroom. We are constantly in sync with how we want the class to run. A joy for this year is that Mr. Boucher and I have a strong teacher-AmeriCorps member relationship, and when we have conversations about the class, I see his passion really shine through. Recently, I received a text from him after the school day had ended that read: "Still so excited about the ANET scores!"
He has taught me so much in such a short amount of time, and I hope to one day emulate the kind of teacher he is in a classroom of my own.
—Mara Schwartz, AmeriCorps member serving on the Wellington Management team with McKay K-8 School
Adaptability and Creativity
Teaching is an incredibly difficult job and nobody exemplifies the role quite like Mrs. Self. She gives students a hands-on approach to their education. For example, when learning about microenterprises in Africa, students were required to create their own microenterprises and think about how each business would help their community. One excellent idea was a basketball camp that would give back to the community through sports education and health enrichment. This really required students to think outside of the box and have agency in their own learning.
Coming in midway through the year was a big challenge and I am so incredibly grateful that it was Mrs. Self who took it on. Each day I know that we have each others backs with the same goal in mind: providing excellent education and mentorship to every one of our students.
—Phebe Myers, AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America team with Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School
A Love for Students, A Love for Learning
Ms. Provencher's passion for teaching and her students is incredibly inspirational. Every day she steps into her classroom ready to make it a great day for her students. She works very hard to make sure she can meet the needs of every single one of her students while making every lesson interactive and exciting. The relationships that she has built with all of her students both individually and as an entire grade is fascinating.
My relationship with Ms. Provencher is based on mutual respect. She looks at her students as our students and allows me to consistently play an active role in the classroom. I feel that our relationship is what creates such a successful environment for learning in the classroom.
—Emily Mejia, AmeriCorps member serving on the Wellington Management team with McKay K-8 School
Creating a Culture of Empathy and Understanding
My partner teacher's name is Krista Sullivan, and she is a 4th-grade teacher, teaching all subjects. She is a wonderful teacher all around, made even more impressive by the fact that this is her first full year teaching a classroom of her own. She is incredibly kind, understanding, and supportive - with students and staff alike - and makes the classroom an open and engaging environment to learn in and to be a part of. We have an incredibly productive relationship, making the classroom flow smoothly. We have immense mutual respect for one another, and she gives me the freedom to contribute my ideas to the structure of the classroom and of lessons. We work together to mold and shape the curriculum to our students, and are constantly making changes that we think will continue to help them improve. Aside from all of the work she does to ensure academic success in our students, she has put forth initiatives to develop their social emotional skills and their overall development as people.
Being in a 4th-grade classroom, working with 9-to-11-year-old students, there is a large variety of developmental changes occurring, often creating a very emotional environment. Ms. Sullivan and I recognized this very early on, and she took it upon herself to incorporate elements of social emotional learning into the classroom on a daily basis.
Since November, we have had a daily “Morning Meeting” before getting started on any schoolwork. In this meeting, we all sit in a circle on the rug and begin by greeting every single person in the circle by name. Ms. Sullivan then delivers the announcements for the day. Following that, the floor is opened to the students for any "news and announcements" of their own, which has come to mean a chance for them to share any stories they want about events happening in their lives. On any given day, there is an incredible range in the news shared, from successes to struggles, both happy and sad. The students have responded incredibly well to the implementation of Morning Meetings. It is a space for things to be talked out and to be solved, involving every member of the class. Additionally, it is an incredible opportunity for students to have a place where they feel as if their voice matters, and is being heard.
When we first started Morning Meetings, we invited our principal came to sit in on a meeting. He sat and listened to our students talk about their lives, and left with glowing praise of the social emotional work he saw that was being done. The progress in our students' social and emotional abilities is undeniable, and those achievements can be credited to Ms. Sullivan's progressive thinking and hard work to ensure that our school and our classroom are more than just places to do work; they are places where students can feel like they matter and belong.
—Danielle Innocent, AmeriCorps member serving on the Wellington Management team with McKay K-8 School
Being an Exceptional Role Model
Ms. Thomas is special because she is extremely dedicated to making sure that her students succeed. She not only takes an interest in what her students are doing academically, but also in who they are as people. She has such a great relationship with them, which allows her to run a very successful classroom. Her students feel comfortable coming up to her and talking to her about anything. She goes above and beyond to make sure that their parents/guardians are involved and is willing to be in contact with them whenever possible. She is a role model for all of her students, and it is so clear that she cares so much for every single one of them.
My relationship with Ms. Thomas is incredible. She is very easy to talk to, so I feel like I can approach her with any questions or concerns that I have. She trusts me enough to ask me questions about how to teach a lesson, and allows me to jump in to her direct instruction to clarify anything if I feel the need to. She allows me to pull students to the side and help them during a lesson. She always makes me feel like I am needed and helping her students succeed. I am so lucky to have been placed with her, because she has definitely made my City Year service year incredible. I look forward to going to service every day because I know that she and I will always be collaborating in order to help our students. She is also so supportive in my career in education and has been a great resource for me in terms of how to pursue my career. I look up to her as a role model, and hope that I can be the caring, dedicated teacher that she is.
—Sabiha Madraswalla, AmeriCorps member serving on the Wellington Management team with McKay K-8 School