As told to Kelsey Hirsch AmeriCorps member, Santee Education Complex

Jordan Henry is a teacher and self-described “out of classroom” staff member at Santee Education Complex in South L.A. He assists with classroom support by helping out when a teacher is out sick and other activities on campus.  He is also in charge of all the electronics on campus. He has witnessed the success of City Year Los Angeles since we started at Santee Education Complex over 3 years ago. 

Q: What is City Year's impact at Santee?

A: I have witnessed the most immediate impact on school culture. Because I am not a teacher, but I am “out of classroom” staff, the most immediate thing I notice every day, every hour, just walking through the halls for the last 3 years since we've had City Year has been passing period. I see AmeriCorps members engaging with students, walking with students to class, pulling them aside to have coaching conversations. I also see City Year act as an extra bunch of teachers, extra sets of eyes and ears, that are keeping the students in class. Secondly, from my time in various classrooms, I've seen the direct support students receive from 1-on-1 conversations or small group conversations with a City Year and the direct support the teacher receives from having another adult in the classroom at all times who knows the kids, who knows the routines, who knows the curriculum and objectives.  Those are the two big takeaways. 

Q: How does having a City Year mentor in a student’s life make a difference?

A: That’s a great question.  I think that having a City Year mentor makes a difference because many of the mentors are not that far-removed from high school. They are closer in age than the teachers. So that’s a huge benefit of having a recent college graduate, especially for some of these kids, as the light is only starting to come on in their heads about college. It's vital to have a recent college graduate there whose memories of college and college learning are so fresh. Secondly, the diversity of the corps also supplies the kids with direct connections and direct experiences. I know at our school this year, we have a City Year member who graduated here 5 years ago. That is a kind of connection you can really say with authority “Do what I did.  I was once sitting where you are and look at me now.” So, relatability in age and diversity, can both compel the kids forward.

Q: What is your favorite thing about City Year?

A: I love the youthful energy and the sense of fun, which is hard to maintain at a school site for anybody.The first corps that came 3 years ago set that precedent. The morning chants put school spirit in place at hours of the day when maybe everyone isn’t feeling it. It is irreplaceable.  I love the sense of school spirit and school pride that it adds.

Q: What message would you like to leave for the team?

Follow the Santee Education Complex team (@santeesnaps_cyla) on Instagram!

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