Q. How would you describe City Year’s impact at Hollenbeck?
A. One of the major changes I have seen is students expressing their feelings instead of reacting in anger. City Year members are providing tools to deal with the many issues some students are dealing with. I see happier students and I see students making better choices. I see more students involved in classroom activities and classroom participation. All of this and more are made possible by the hard work and dedication of City Year members.
Q. How does having a City Year mentor in a student’s life make a difference?
A. It makes a major difference! I see students become emotionally invested with their City Year member, and for many of my students having someone to talk to is something they lack at home and something they truly need.
As a teacher, I don’t have the time to get to know my students as I should, and as a result, many students ‘fall through the cracks.’ But City Year members have the ability to grab those students who would otherwise fall through the cracks and provide them with hope, motivation, and most importantly, support. I, as a teacher, cannot do this alone.
Q. Can you share an example?
A. I once had a female student with a negative attitude toward males, and one of my City Year members happened to be male. At first, she refused to work with him. I told her that refusing help is not going to help her in school or in her daily life. After speaking with my City Year member and providing him with tips on how to deal with her, he was patient and took my advice.
Within a couple of weeks, she slowly opened up to him. It took a lot of work on his part to convince her that asking for help is not a bad thing, especially if it comes from a male. By the end of the school year, her attitude had completely changed and she was sad to see him go. She wrote him a heartfelt letter thanking him for his patience and for believing in her and not giving up on her. She cried the last day of school.
Q. Why is City Year’s work necessary at Hollenbeck and other schools like it?
A. The work City Year does is necessary and vital to the lives of many students who lack support and motivation at home. They need to see young role models who not only believe in them, but who will support them.