By Brandon Slone, City Year Milwaukee, AmeriCorps Member serving at South Division High School

“Give a year.  Change the world.” 

These six words capture, at the purest sense, what a City Year corps member does.  For ten months, we work alongside our school teams to make a difference in the lives of the children we serve. 

South Division High School is a unique school in every sense of the word.  With 20+ languages spoken here, every student has something to bring to the table.  In September, school started and my team jumped right in.  As with any year, it is important to start off strong. 

There are countless moments in this school that have brought me pure joy so far this year.  Every morning starts with us greeting the students.  Personally, I love power greeting, but even that goes differently than planned quite often.  One day in particular that stands out was a dance-off a couple of students started having.  Their energy sets the tone for the school day, getting them active, woken up, and smiling at those early hours. 

Once classes start, it’s time for us to get to work.  My day begins with some of the hardest-working students.  These students are eager to learn.  Despite having a small class, the students in my first hour never fail to exceed my expectations.   

As the day rolls on, every person in the school’s favorite part of the day quickly approaches: lunch.  For corps members, this is a time of the day to get to know our students not just as students, but as people.  We get to discuss what is going on in our students’ lives outside of the classroom.  The students appreciate it because it lets them know we are not just authority figures in the school, but rather people who care about how they are doing in life. 

These are but a few of the joys that I see throughout my day, and my team sees countless more. 

A few members of my team shared their joys: 

Watching the student have a dance-off and being a part of that fun space.
 – Morgan 

Mama Mac’s closet (a place where people can donate clothes and hygiene products that are made available to students) being able to donate to it every other week I go home.
- Josie  

Some of my Pakistani and Somali students offered me some of their homemade food during lunch.
- Joe  

My joy from this year so far is having students stay in classes where they say they’re ready to walk out after having them thank me after class is over.  Sometimes all they need is a gentle reminder of what to do.
- Andrew 

My students love my baked goods.
- Tamicia 

We work long hours, but thanks to the students in the school they fly by faster than I could have ever imagined.  On any given day, I am reminded countless times over why we do what we do, and that brings me joy.

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