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Finding meaning in a second year of service

Even after a year that presented big challenges in the form of online learning, many of our AmeriCorps members find great reward in a second year of service. City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member Paulina Tesnow is one of them.

Returning this year as the Team Leader at George Washington Carver STEM, she reflects on what service means to her and how valuable it’s been to be back in the classroom alongside our scholars.

City Year AmeriCorps member tutoring students in ELA

Paulina’s service journey with City Year

“I serve to be with people: to build and grow meaningful, transformative relationships with scholars and like-minded peers. Through my service at City Year, I want to make people feel seen and heard; to understand them; and to maybe make them feel a little less alone.

I came to City Year last year seeking every opportunity to do that, so it was challenging to adjust to online learning, where barriers to participation and attendance created learning gaps that were hard to fill. I tried to get to know my students as best I could, by remembering details about them and welcoming them enthusiastically to class after periods of absence. I know that our presence in classrooms helped significantly to minimize learning loss during the school year, but for me, the joy of connecting with people was missing. At times, I doubted whether I would be able to build lasting relationships with my students.

But in my last three months of service, that all changed. Showing up to school, I was inspired by hearing the students’ laughter and their “Hey City Year!”s as they passed me in the hallway. I woke up excited to go to school and to see my students, my partner teacher and our team.

Now, students run up and wrap their arms around me in the mornings. They teach me TikTok dances and show me pictures of their family on their phones. They look forward to seeing City Year every day, and tell me that they miss us when we’re gone.

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For me, City Year is the ultimate reward: a way to connect. I am cherishing every opportunity I have to be present with people, from the AmeriCorps members on my team to the staff at my school and, of course, the students.”

Are you considering applying to City Year? Learn why our AmeriCorps members find their year of service so rewarding that they want to repeat it. In Cleveland, we’re accepting applications until October 22nd for mid-year intake. Start your application today, or contact a recruiter with any questions.

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