“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” – Igbo (Nigeria) Proverb
At City Year we realize that to truly create impact in the lives of students we work with, we cannot do it alone. It takes a village, and then some, to support our students in their academic and social-emotional development. After two years, I have been lucky to see what it means to transform students with the help of some amazing transformational partnerships.
As I begin my third school year as a City Year Impact Manager at Edward White High School in Jacksonville, I am reflecting on a concept that we often discuss in our organization, the concept of a “transformational” partnership. The basic idea is that when we work with our schools, we move from being just a provider of an additional service, to becoming one entity with our schools. Together we work to provide all the supports and tools that our students need. In Jacksonville, we’ve been so amazingly fortunate to work with a school district that not only has brought us in, but has brought us on as a member of the team. The partnership between City Year Jacksonville and Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) has shown me that when partners truly sit together at the same table, they can accomplish so much more than they could alone.
Our relationship with DCPS has been built by three years of trust building, communication successes and challenges, continuous process improvements, and a never-ending conversation of student progress monitoring. From my vantage point, I’ve seen what building transformational partnerships looks like first hand and how it manifests itself for our amazing teachers and AmeriCorps members; the real leaders in creating impact and change. Keeping our students in school and on track to graduation is about the big and small conversations, whether that is an inspirational start-of year meeting with every City Year school principal in our office (Wow!), or the daily data chats between City Year AmeriCorps members and their partner teacher about which students got the concepts that day, and which students didn’t. Real transformational partnerships don’t just happen at the highest levels of institutional leadership, but on all levels.
To think that just three years ago, we were preparing to start our first City Year in Jacksonville with twenty AmeriCorps Members in two schools, and now we have one hundred AmeriCorps Members in ten schools is amazing. In the process of making that happen, City Year Jacksonville and DCPS have successfully impacted hundreds of young people. We’ve come together as partners in building a new, more purposeful village. A transformational village.