2014-09-26

Every weekday, like his fellow City Year AmeriCorps members, Terrance Embry rises early. The alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and he’s out the door to catch the 6:30 a.m. bus, which takes him to the Franklin D. Roosevelt PreK – 8 Academy in Glenville, one of Cleveland’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

After an energizing morning greeting to welcome students, the bell rings and it’s time to start school. Terrance serves in a 6th grade science and language arts classroom during the mornings. In the afternoons, he is busy implementing after-school programs with his teammates, and tutoring students needing help – including those who may not be assigned to his focus lists. Twice a week, he meets with his behavioral focus list students, to coach them in positive behaviors using socioemotional interventions, leadership and service as tools. Often, he and his colleagues stay beyond their required time of 4:45 p.m. to extend support even further with another school partner the Boys and Girls Club, playing basketball, videogames or dancing with the children until 6:30 p.m.

As someone who has tutored young children since high school, for Terrance being a tutor, mentor, and role model is a way of life: “I’m using what I learn at City Year to help my nephew who’s in 3rd grade to succeed in English/language arts and math." Terrance is a native Clevelander and a graduate of Hawken School as well as Oberlin College with a degree in biology and minor in chemistry and has an impressive resume of scholarly achievements and community service. He could have gone on to graduate school or had numerous job options after graduation. However, upon hearing a City Year recruiter speak during a visit to Oberlin, he was inspired to take his experience and talents back to his hometown of Cleveland. It is also why he opted to serve a second City Year, in City Year Cleveland’s first pilot using second-year members.

As he puts it, “I saw the impact I had, but also the impact that the students had on me – and I’m not ready to let go of that yet.” Calvin*, an eighth-grader Terrance worked with last year, was very quiet, reserved and never participated in math class. His work was not accurate or complete, and he was in danger of failing. Terrance saw that Calvin needed to gain self-confidence in his abilities, and began working with him regularly. Soon Calvin began advocating for himself in class, losing his shyness and asking questions when he needed help. He even moved his seat to be near the teacher, and requested to work in groups. His work showed steady improvement. Calvin went from not passing math the prior year to getting A’s and B’s. By the end of the school year he was the second-highest scoring student in the eighth grade. Terrance is especially proud of the fact that Calvin was not only promoted to the ninth grade, but that he now attends one of the top-performing high schools in the entire state of Ohio.

After City Year, Terrance plans to follow his passions of science and service and apply to medical school to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

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