By Matthew Holubecki, AmeriCorps member 

Ever since I started serving at my partner school, I have noticed that students often equate their success with completion of their work. They often forgo the importance of the other aspects of their growth as a student. This is why City Year not only focuses on math and English interventions, but also Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) interventions where students can work on social skills and relationship building. City Year also works on attendance, where students can create goals to be more present in school and the classroom both physically and mentally. Relationship building and presence in the classroom is what I decided to work on with Kira*.

On my first day at the school, Kira was one of the first students I met. She immediately demanded to know my name and why I was there. Kira has displayed a level of confidence and self-determination that far surpasses her peers at 14 years old. She is not afraid to stand up for herself and is extremely willing to argue with a teacher if she believes she is right. Kira completes her work and my interventions are rarely focused on that aspect of her growth. Instead, we work on relationship building, limiting distractions in the classroom, as well as managing frustration in a positive and non-confrontational manner.

In the classroom, Kira often distracts herself, which in turn distracts others around her. Since she rarely leaves work unfinished, distractions strain her relationship with her teacher and with her peers. Kira and I have sat down every week and created goals that will grow her relationships. A few of the goals include cutting back on snippy comments towards her peers and teachers as well as staying in her seat when frustrated instead of leaving the classroom. Since then, Kira has made strides in how she interacts in the classroom by moving herself to prevent distractions and maximizing the quality of the work she completes by remaining focused and calm. 


*The name of the student has been changed in order to protect the student’s privacy. 

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