Q. How would you describe City Year’s impact at Santee?
A. Santee Education Complex experienced a very chaotic switch from 3 SLC’s [Small Learning Communities] to one comprehensive high school. After the SLC’s were eliminated there wasn’t really a personal connection from the teachers to the kids. When City Year came in with focus lists and corps members who follow the same group of students, it was helpful to know that there was an adult who would be able to bring back that personalization.
We invested a lot into City Year the first year, but the staff didn’t initially buy into it. Yet after the first year, when we went to school site council, City Year was the No. 1 choice to bring back out of all other initiatives.
Q. How do City Year AmeriCorps members make a difference in student’s lives?
A. I’ve seen City Year become advocates for students who were on their way toward dropping out. Those students that they advocated for last year have had complete turnarounds. I think City Year makes a tremendous impact being advocates for students -- just showing the students that there are people that care about them.
Q. Can you share an example?
A. A set of twins last year were on the verge of dropping out. These kids had straight F’s, but there were two City Year members who said that they would be willing to work with them. One twin made all A’s and B’s this year. The other one made passing grades. Today, these students are not necessarily angels, but they now understand that there are goals that they can accomplish and they are willing to work for that. I can tell you that the majority of that -- I would say 95% -- was because of City Year.
Q. Why is City Year’s work necessary at Santee and other schools like it?
A. When you’re working in an inner city school, sometimes there is little room for those personal relationships, just because of the demand of the job. City Year fills that gap, and ensures that these relationships are being built on a daily basis.
Q. What do you consider to be your spirit animal?
A. A falcon – DUH!
Follow the team of AmeriCorps members serving at Santee on Instagram: @SanteeSnaps_CYLA.