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Red Jacket Ceremony at City Year Detroit


On October 28, 2023, City Year Detroit AmeriCorps members participated in a Red Jacket Ceremony. My name is Mary Kate Rae and I proudly serve at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School on the west side of Detroit. I work with fourth graders to improve English Language Arts skills and provide whole classroom support when I am not doing small group interventions. Our Red Jacket Ceremony was a special time to receive our iconic red jackets. We then dedicated them to a student, mentor or another important figure in our lives.

These special people have made an important impact on us. An impact that led us to that precise moment of dedicating our jackets to a cause greater than ourselves. Serving a cause greater than ourselves is one of City Year’s core values and it is a value that keeps us going when we have a tough day at school. It is also what makes being a City Year AmeriCorps member so rewarding: seeing student progress and feeling loved and appreciated by students daily.

I dedicated my red jacket to Ms. Shannon Fitzgerald, my high school French teacher. Ms. Fitzgerald gave me the space to pursue a passion and start growing to become a responsible, caring adult as a high school senior. Ms. Fitzgerald was one of my favorite teachers in high school and she was immensely supportive of me as I navigated becoming a younger version of who I am today, a leader, and a teacher.

When I founded and led a French Club, Ms. Fitzgerald served as our club’s faculty mentor. Ms. Fitzgerald gave us her time, guidance, and space in her classroom. Her laid-back and trusting approach empowered me to be a better leader, a better French speaker, and a better person. It was during my time in Ms.Fitzgerald’s classroom that I learned to remain calm and grateful through trying times, gained a love for laughter and fun, and an appreciation for new knowledge and ideas.


Mary Kate Rae and Mrs. Fitzgerald


These lessons are what make me who I am today. It’s these attributes, nurtured by my teacher and friend Ms. Fitzgerald, among others that make me able and happy to serve at Bethune. I will never forget all that Ms. Fitzgerald has done for me and I serve so that I can be like Ms. Fitzgerald for the students I work with. I hope to help educate and empower the students I serve during my gap year and hereafter once I am credentialed as a school counselor, to nourish the gifts of the wonderful young people in my local community.

I have the privilege of being let into these beautiful and talented students’ lives. City Year Detroit’s Red Jacket Ceremony was a lovely opportunity to remember and celebrate why and who I serve.

Mary Kate Rae
AmeriCorps member
Bethune Elementary-Middle School

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