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Meet educator and City Year alum Bianca Lynch (Washington D.C. ’03)

Lessons learned from City Year to a career in teaching

As a proud City Year Washington D.C. alum, Bianca Lynch’s love for City Year runs deep. Eighteen years after her service year, she still carries elements of City Year’s culture throughout her day-to-day and says the experience serving in schools cemented her interest in entering the education field.

As a career technology teacher and track coach in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Bianca oftentimes finds herself using City Year “power tools” from her training as an AmeriCorps member to mobilize, communicate with, and inspire those around her.

“The structure of City Year is something that I try to bring into not only my classroom, but my personal life as well, like Q2Q,” Bianca says. “People make fun of me and laugh at me when I’m like, ‘This is what we are doing 9:00, 9:15, 9:30. This is our structure for the day.’ They’re not used to planning down to the minute like I do.” Even for Bianca’s wedding, she used the Q2Q format to plan the big day.

Similar to cue-to-cues in theatre productions, a Q2Q is a minute-by-minute breakdown of a specific City Year event, from preparation to clean-up. Each task on the Q2Q has a specific point person who oversees that activity. The Q2Q not only centralizes all event information in one easy-to-access document, but also allows someone who may not have been intricately involved in all aspects of planning to understand all of the moving parts at an event.

Bianca City Year 2003
Bianca and her now husband Travis at her 2003 City Year Washington D.C. graduation.

Bianca’s goal as an educator, year after year, is to help develop well-rounded individuals.

“I tell my students jokingly, ‘I want to get rid of you, but I want to get rid of you in a good way.’” As a career technology teacher at a high school, Bianca teaches a life-skills focused curriculum that includes topics such as career readiness, financial literacy, and the foundations of technology.  Her course content allows for robust classroom experiences including having students reflect on who they are, their strengths, and their dreams for the future.

“I tell my students daily,” Bianca explains, “’You’ve got to go out and do good things because I want to read about you, and I want it to be good! I don’t want to read bad things about you. I want you to be able to come back and show other students that you’re doing these wonderful things out in the world.’”

One of Bianca’s greatest joys this past school year was coaching alongside two of her former high school students who were track athletes and decided to come back and serve as an inspiration for their younger peers.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about supporting your community. I want to instill in my students the need to try to be a good person, be the best person that you are able to be. You’re not the same person as the person sitting next to you. So, do you, but be the best you that you can be!”

A Foreign Affairs and African-American Studies major in college, Bianca didn’t know what she wanted to pursue as career. In the middle of her college experience, she decided to take a gap year which lead her to serving with City Year. “I decided to take a break in the middle of college and I said to myself, ‘Okay, if I take a gap year, I can’t just do nothing because people already think I’m crazy that I’m taking a gap year,’ ”she recalls.

This led Bianca to City Year, where she served in a past City Year program called Getting Youth Beyond Barriers in School (GYBIS). Working with middle schoolers who were suspended from school– through conflict resolution, mentoring, tutoring and getting youth actively engaged in service projects—City Year AmeriCorps members assisted students in re-entering into the school system. It was this very experience through City Year that Bianca identified her future career path as a special education teacher.

“City Year solidified and confirmed that I wanted to work in education, and I wanted to work with students that may be struggling, for whatever reason.”

While Bianca values her service with City Year D.C., some of her closest City Year bonds came from her engagement as an alum. Bianca has served on City Year Washington D.C.’s alumni board and assisted in organizing several City Year Alumni Service Weekends.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans community in 2005, City Year decided to found a new site there and a group of City Year alums gathered to serve the community in a different way. Founded in 2006, the Alumni Service Weekend (ASW) brings together alumni board members from across the network who unite as a community of idealists to support the development of City Year Louisiana, strengthen and promote the national alumni association, and learn about and contribute to the rebuilding effort in New Orleans.

After a few years serving in hurricane relief efforts in NOLA, the group expanded to other service project sites including Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C. Each year, the group of alums partner with a local City Year site to tackle a service project in the community. Whether the service project is painting murals, cleaning a cemetery, renovating a home, or beautifying a public park—each year the group of alums partners with a local school, community center, or business to make the project come to life.

During these trips, Bianca formed deep bonds with fellow alums serving alongside her. This core group continues to serve as her support system today.

“A group of us who have come to Alumni Service Weekend pretty much every year, during COVID we’ve been so supportive of each other, with our children, and with just having someone to talk to,” Bianca says.

A City Year Philadelphia alum taught a virtual sign language class for the group and their children; another from City Year New York hosted weekly yoga; and sometimes instead of a family activity this group of City Year alums gets together to destress with a virtual happy hour.

After such a challenging and isolating time during the pandemic, Bianca is grateful for her friends. “This is our support system, and it’s been our support system way beyond our time in the corps.”

Learn more about City Year alums by following the City Year Alumni Association on Instagram.  

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