Written by David Smith, Team Leader on the Dr. George Washing Carver Academy of Mathematics and Science City Year Team
Walking through the hallways of Dr. George Washington Carver Academy of Mathematics and Science is walking through a sea of blue. That is because of all the blue uniform shirts which scholars are required to wear. But within all of that blue there are sprinkled a few specks of red.
One of the unique programs at Carver is a leadership development opportunity available to scholars who embody our school’s core values (B-SPIRE):
These scholars, who earn their red shirt after submitting a written application, acquiring a letter of recommendation from their teacher, and interviewing with a panel of school leaders, are trained for their responsibilities as mentors to our kindergarten and first graders. They also serve as ambassadors for school visitors.
Training the Red Shirts for these responsibilities is one of the tasks (or should I say pleasures) that City Year supports. This entails planning and facilitating exercises at the weekly Red Shirt meetings to build social and emotional skills in empathy, professional communication, and teamwork.
To prepare the Red Shirts for their work as check-in buddies with our younger scholars, City Year AmeriCorps members role play in discussions on how to interact empathetically as a role model. To prepare the Red Shirts for their work as ambassadors, corps members acted as guests and asked questions about Carver. This allowed for the scholars to rehearse how they would conduct a school tour.
City Year helps scholars stay on track to graduate by supporting them in attendance, behavior, and course work. Often, when we talk about behavior, we think about poor decisions young people make. But helping scholars to grow socially and emotionally requires not just the redirection of negatives, but also the supplying of meaningful development opportunities. The Red Shirt program gives Carver scholars the opportunity to be the best leaders they can be.