By Jasmine Escobedo, AmeriCorps member, Stevenson Middle School
As City Year mentors, near peers, and role models the work that we do in and out of the classroom throughout the year would not be possible without the help of our partner teachers. In fact, one of our ten City Year core values is Students First, Collaboration Always. This value states, "The success of the young people we serve is our preeminent goal, best achieved by working in partnership with others who are dedicated to the same cause." Meet one of our amazing partner teachers who has been with us from the beginning of our seven-year partnership: Mr. Rodriguez. A Stevenson Middle School pirate himself, he is a teacher who, just like us, believes in the potential our students have and the success they will achieve.
Q: What subjects and grade do you teach?
A: I teach 8th Grade Language Arts/8th Grade AVID, and I am the AVID Coordinator.
Q: How long have you been teaching? How long have you been teaching at Stevenson Middle School?
A. I have been teaching for 15 years: 14 years at Stevenson and one year at Santa Fe Springs and Roosevelt Senior High Schools.
Q: Why did you choose to teach? Why have you chosen to stay at Stevenson Middle School?
A. I chose to teach because I've always enjoyed reading and writing. I had a 10th grade Composition teacher, Mrs. Cartmel, who saw what I loved and she made me realize it. She had a way of bringing the best out of her students. I chose to teach at Stevenson because Stevenson always felt like home. I had a very difficult high school experience, but during my time at Stevenson (Junior High School, at that time) my experiences were very memorable. I grew up in the community. My family still lives in the community. I wanted to give back to the community what it gifted me. I believe that it is here at this age where you can impact students so that when they get to high school they will be less likely to stop learning, to drop out.
Q: What impact have you seen City Year have in your classroom?
A. City Year has had a great impact. It is another set of adults in the class that can provide support to students. The program offers small group, strategically targeted support founded on very specific forms of data. The support is not only offered in the class, but with tutoring, culture, and climate. Students appear to grow more confident and improve academically. City Year impacts the class by providing the extra support. It is an extra adult that has the opportunity to help a greater number of students. The program helps motivate and encourage students to do better. It builds esteem in students.
Q: How does having a City Year mentor change or affect a student's life?
A. Having City Year mentors affects students in many positive ways. Students have many more positive role models to emulate and learn from.
Q: How long have you had an AmeriCorps member in your classroom? How has that experience been?
A: I have had a City Year AmeriCorps member in my classroom for the past seven years, on and off. The experience has been amazing. The program hires great people, hardworking people. There have been many members that I still keep in contact with up to this day.
Q: How do the CY members affect the overall school environment?
A. City Year is great because it has influenced student and teacher culture and climate. Students are more positive and engaged in activities.
Q: What is your favorite thing about having CY at Stevenson M.S.?
A. One of my favorite things about having City Year at Stevenson is the support that the members provide, not only in the content classes but in AVID.
Q: What message would you tell your CY member and any other CY member serving throughout the U.S.?
A. The message I would give to City Year members is Thank You. Thank you for everything you do for our children. You make such a difference in the lives of children. You are an amazing and intricate part of their lives and the lives of teachers. You provide such amazing support and contribute so much to teaching. You work in one of the world's best professions. It is because of people like you that teaching is much more fun and rewarding. It is your support that allows our classes to function more smoothly.