2018-03-22

Mandy Casals, a former City Year Jacksonville AmeriCorps member and now a teacher at The Edward H. White Military Academy of Leadership (the same school she served in as an AmeriCorps member) knew before coming into City Year that she was interested in becoming a teacher but just wasn’t quite ready to commit to it. “I served here, right next door to this class classroom actually,” laughs Mandy Casals. Now four years into her teaching career she reflects on the moments that reinforce her decision to pursue education. From valuable resources and professional development to her experience being paired with a teacher whom she describes as phenomenal during her service year. “To this day I think she is one of the best educators I’ve ever known,” Mandy explains. “I learned so much from her; student relationships managing student behavior, content delivery. I learned from her all the things they don’t teach you about being a teacher. I spent so much time with her, when I became a first-year teacher it wasn’t that overwhelming because I already had the experience.”

“My path to becoming a Teacher was a bit nontraditional. I wasn’t an education major but because I was a City Year AmeriCorps member first it allowed me to get my feet wet. Serving a year with City Year really solidified my career choice to be a teacher.”-Mandy Casals

Ironically Mandy’s corps year was City Year Jacksonville’s first year at The Edward H. White Military Academy of Leadership. When the Red Jackets first entered the hall back in 2013 the staff and students weren’t very receptive. Unsure of why City Year was there or if they even served a purpose. Now, years later, Mandy explains the students and administration know City Year's purpose and mission “It’s been really cool for me to see that evolution happen” she said.

Casals taking the AmeriCorps pledge during City Year Jacksonville's Founding Year Opening Day Ceremony. 

“City Year's service in the classroom is where some of the biggest impact happens.”

-Mandy Casals

Next-door to the very same room where she dedicated a year to serve, Mandy Casals fills up her own classroom with enlightenment, inspiration, and hope. An abundant classroom of eager diverse students, Mandy explains how City Year helps make this possible.

“It’s really awesome having a City Year AmeriCorps member in my room. Her name is Ms.K she makes it possible to do so many things I wouldn’t be able to do without her. For a variety of reasons, I feel like students tune out when I am doing whole group instruction. So, when they’re in smaller groups it’s more personal and I think they appreciate it more. It also allows me to tailor my lessons to their induvial needs.  Ms.K helps with the overall big picture, student relationships, and content delivery. I truly believe the most effective and impactful sessions I do, come in smaller group settings and without City Year It would be so much more difficult to accomplish that in my day to day lessons.”

Today Mandy continues to devote herself to service and education by passing on the knowledge she gained during her year of service and years of teaching, and creating a positive environment for students to learn.

Audriana Hairston
Marketing and Communications Intern
City Year Jacksonville

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