Today's blog post is written by Chelsey Reese, an AmeriCorps Member serving on the Jacksonville Jaguars Team at Matthew Gilbert Middle School, who shares about an event the City Year team planned a few months ago to celebrate the school community during American Education Week. 

Photo from Parent Lunch & Learn


Back in November, our team participated in American Education Week (AEW). AEW is a national celebration with the purpose of honoring individuals and organizations who work to make a difference in public education. Whether it be the teachers who educate, administrators who maintain a safe learning environment, community partners who fund school initiatives and programs, or parents who provide the basic necessities and encourage scholastic achievement, all of these entities play a part in making sure all students achieve their potential. So during the week of November 14th-18th City Year hosted a series of events catered to honoring participants in American Education. 

On Monday, November 14, we kick started the week with an appreciation for our students as they are contributors to their own education. To spice up our typical morning power greeting, we played a non-explicit playlist filled with mainstream music including Milly Rock and Ju-Ju On That Beat. We also held a raffle where students got to win cool prizes like gift cards to local businesses and City Year gear. At the end of the day, as students departed, they were met by City Year AmeriCorps Members handing out candy. My favorite part of the day was when one student burst into the City Year room with words of thanks saying,“This school has never had a Student Appreciation Day! You guy’s [City Year] did, and that means so much to me!” To our students, you are appreciated.

On Tuesday, November 15, parents and guardians were invited to a Lunch & Learn event where they had the opportunity to visit their students for lunch to spend time together as well as connect with the Matthew Gilbert Middle School Community. Parents arrived with lunch and met their children in the City Year room to engage in conversation with one another and the City Year team.  It was imperative for us to give recognition to parents and guardians as they are incredibly influential parts of a child’s advancement. As Jane Hull stated, “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” As challenging as it can be to plan and execute an event that engages parents during the school day, we were pleased to see the turnout of families who took advantage of this opportunity and we hope to have similar events in the future.

On Wednesday, November 16, we took the time to honor the teachers, school administration, and supporting staff of Matthew Gilbert. To their surprise, teacher and admin mailboxes were filled with notes of appreciation and sweet treats. Additionally, cafeteria staff, coaches, security officers, bus drivers, and other support staff were presented with small gifts for all their hard work, since often support staff can go unnoticed. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child”, is true at Matthew Gilbert Middle School, where the teachers, administration, all of the staff members in a variety of roles and duties, our parents, and our community partners who all work to ensure every child receives a quality education. All of these different people deserve to be celebrated, during American Education Week and throughout the whole year.

Our team was honored to have had the pleasure to lead and initiate the American Education Week event because it brought increasing awareness and appreciation to the members of our community who are making a difference in the lives of others. 

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