By Mary McManus, AmeriCorps Member serving at McDonough Elementary School

As a City Year Corps Member, there are a lot of moments, almost daily, that push you as an individual, that force you to confront who you are as a leader. These moments require that you ask yourself the question “How much of myself am I willing to put into this?” Literacy Night was such a moment for me. Literacy Night in our schools is a night where AmeriCorps Members create fun and engaging literacy games for kids to play to get them excited about reading and learning. The night is completely run by City Year and supported by our schools. It is a chance to showcase the hard work that we do and to promote community and parent involvement.

I have never been much of a logistical planner, let alone event leader. However, as the Literacy Coordinator at my school, it was my job to plan the event down to the last detail. I had to think about things like the theme, prizes, flow of the event, advertising the event, recruiting volunteers to run the event, etc. This quickly became very daunting for me, then I realized that although I was in charge of planning the event, I had a whole team invested in the event. I must have some good karma out in the world because City Year placed me on the most talented, dedicated, creative, and supportive team on the planet. I thought about all the many strengths my team possessed and quickly realized we could make this the best Literacy Night our school had ever seen. I delegated out tasks and we all set to work.

The night of the event, stress levels were high, and it was the end of a long day, in a long week, in a long month. Regardless of the stress and the exhaustion, something that is true about City Year AmeriCorps members network-wide, is that once you see the smiling face of a child excited about playing a literacy game with you, you can’t help but channel their excitement and make better happen.

I have so much pride in my heart for my team and my school because we projected having about 150 students show up, but we were lucky enough to reach 242 students. Not only that but every child that came to the event got to leave with their very own book as a prize. Not all of our students have access to very many books in their home so this was a heart-warming accomplishment. It is very important for me to stress again that although I was the point person for our Literacy Night, it is because of my beautiful teammates and supportive site that the night was a success.


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