2015-07-09

By Phoebe Axtman, Marketing Communications AmeriCorps VISTA


Allie Gonyea, 23
Impact VISTA
Parker-Varney Elementary School Team ‘15
Plymouth State University

What made you join City Year?
I wanted to join City Year after an alum had me volunteer with her during GYSD and I fell in love with the organization’s mission and feel. I met  a 5th grader that day and I actually felt like I made a difference to her, which made me wonder what I could do with an entire year. 

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
Other than all of the “kids say the darnest things moments I had with my students all year, I would say the talent shows at BTR and ATR. City Year has talent…and the hilarious MCs. 

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
I had a student who really struggled in reading. Over the course of the year we worked on his reading skills and he built up so much confidence. He jumped from reading at a level N ti reading at a level R (which is on grade level) and instead of me asking prompting questions he would tell me things like “I know what the theme is,” or “I infer that…”

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Be open to new (and weird) things! You’ll never be with another group like this again. Embrace it and have fun!

What are you most excited for this year?
I’m most excited to meet all of the FY16 corps members! I can’t wait to get to know them! 


Amanda Valledor, 23
Service Leader
McDonough Elementary School Team ‘15
John Hopkins University

What made you join City Year?
I studied engineering in college and wanted to take a break before entering the workforce. I loved working with kids and when I heard about City Year, it seemed like the perfect fit for a year of service. 

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
My favorite memory from last year was Immersion Excursion Day. I had so much fun exploring random, unique New Hampshire sites like American Stonehenge with some great corps members I didn’t get to work with very often during the year. 

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
One of my attendance students struggled with anxiety and missed a lot of school days in the beginning of the year. She missed two or three days almost every week. After some coaching and building a positive relationship with her, she fell in love with City Year and started to overcome some of her anxiety issues. She started to love coming to school and began to miss fewer days. At the end of the year, she even had a few weeks of perfect attendance which was a huge accomplishment for her.

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
One piece of advice I have is to make the most of your year. The year will go by very fast and it’s up to you to get the most out of your experience. Take chances, dream big and get squishy! 

What are you most excited for this year?
I am most excited to meet the new corps members and meeting my new teammates. I can’t wait to get back into schools and work with our students. 


Binh Tran, 25
Service Leader
Beech Street Elementary School Team ‘15
University of New Hampshire

What made you join City Year?
I wanted to work within the community I was raised.  

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
My favorite memories are Family Math Night and International Night.

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
One of my math focus list students had extreme math anxiety and would give up very easily when doing math work. I slowly built her confidence up through small successes and she was one of the highest scores on the last assessment. 

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Don’t be afraid to fail! 

What are you most excited for this year?
I am most excited to develop a strong and efficient team. 


Brenden Bish, 24 
Service Leader
Beech Street Elementary School Team ‘15
Western Connecticut State University

What made you join City Year?
I joined City Year to dedicate a year of national service and to give back to communities in need in more than one way.

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member?
Running through the hallways of Beech Street Elementary with all of the staff, administration, and students lined up in the hallways cheering us on and showing their love and gratitude towards us.

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year?
One of my students who had shown tremendous growth started the year out very moody and with a very negative attitude. By the years close he has shown that he can make an effort to not only change his attitude but also his approach to so many different things. He also showed that he is capable of being a leader.

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
You will do lots and lots of planning and possible even more reflecting. Make it a point to live in the moment and soak it all in.

What are you most excited for this year?
The ability to have an impact on students with way more experience than I have had in the past.


Dereion Stalling, 20
Service Leader
Gossler Park School Team ‘15
University of Arizona

What made you join City Year? 
I was really interested in education and service; City Year was, and still is, the perfect here.

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
My favorite memory was getting to know everyone at BTR; learning from each other and laughing at each other’s jokes. 

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
I mentored a student in ELA for half of the year. In that time she grew so much in her confidence and love of reading. Her fluency developed positively and she also increased in five reading levels during our time together.  

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Enjoy the time you have here at City Yea, both in and out of the classroom.

What are you most excited for this year?
I am really excited to be part of City Year on a whole new plane where I am both in the classroom and supporting the corps members. 


Ivy Casteel, 19
Service Leader
Beech Street Elementary School Team ‘15
Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School

What made you join City Year? 
I wanted to join after seeing an inspirational City Year YouTube video. 

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
My favorite memory was my student who told really bad jokes. “Miss. Casteel, why did the hamburger cross the road…because his kids were on the other side and he had to get to them,” said the student. 

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
I mentored a math student who had sever behavior problems due to his lack of confidence in his school work. By the end of the year he loved math time and was one of my best behavior students!

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Learn as much as you can about each other. Remember things and follow up! These will be your friends for the rest of the year! 

What are you most excited for this year?
I am excited to figure out my new role! I want to jump in feet first! 


Josh Rose, 23
Service Leader
McDonough Elementary School Team ‘15
University of Maine of Farmington

What made you join City Year? 
I joined City Year because I wanted to be a part of a greater community.

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
One of my students lost her cat ears and the whole school worked together to find them.

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year?
I worked with a student in Math, and interestingly enough, her confidence grew to such an extent that she became comfortable with dressing and looking the way she wanted and to be who she wanted to be. 

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Give it your all! 

What are you most excited for this year?
The Beloved Community!!!


Matthew Bratsch, 24
Development VISTA
Beech Street Elementary School Team ‘15
Rowan University

What made you join City Year?
I joined because I was brought up in foster care and eventually was adopted into a less fortunate family. I relied on people in the community like coaches, teachers, and other role models to make it through high school and college. I wanted to be that type of person for the students in Manchester.

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
It had to be the last day at Beech St. We all were paged into the parents room by administration where they thanked us for a great year and we were going to take one last walk around the school.  When they opened the doors, all 600 students flooded the halls making pathways and giving us high fives. Students, teachers and staff were shouting and smiling with all of their appreciation as my team walked the halls one last time. Every one of us cried.

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
I had a student that would make fun of everyone, pick fights and constantly complain, leading to buddy room. It happened so often and he seemed to be okay with not doing anything in the other room. One day I have him my City Year Handbook and he immediately took interest. I made him read to me the starfish story to me and I explained he was my starfish. For the rest of the year, we came up with a code system if he needed a break from others and if he was getting out of control I would ask if I needed to throw him back in the water. He would let me know that he was good enough to swim on his own for now. I wrote him a letter calling him my starfish and I believed in him. So one day I looked in his folder and he stapled it into the binder so he could see that every day.  He needed someone to remind him that he had potential.

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Take care of yourself. This is a long year with many ups and downs. Pamper yourself once in a while, but in the end remember why you are here.

What are you most excited for this year?
Working in Development will be a different City Year experience for me and the staff over there are all-stars and inspiring professionals. I am excited to learn from them. I also am PUMPED to be working as the Alumni Site Point and working with The Alumni Board and fundraising for the alumni sponsored team. To be a part of something that all eyes in the network are watching (being the first site with an alumni sponsored team) is an incredible opportunity for myself and City Year New Hampshire.


Neal Hunter, 23 
Service Leader
Parker-Varney School Team ‘13
State University of New York at Geneseo

What made you join City Year? 
I wanted to get the experience of serving and making a difference before completing college. 

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
GYSD was one of the most exciting and awesome days that I had during my corps year.

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
I had one student who was behind on almost everything in class. Although he had a really tough time on a lot of material, he was the most enthusiastic student I had ever seen. He started the year more than a full year behind and when the year finished he was back on level and excited for fourth grade.

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Sleep. It is really easy to get tied up in everything going on and windup cutting out sleep. It is extremely important to remember to keep well rested and ready to serve! 

What are you most excited for this year?
I am excited to be returning to City Year and Manchester for another year. I am also excited to meet the new first year corps members and watch them grow throughout the year. 


Sarah Caska, 23
Service Leader
Beech Street Elementary School Team ‘15
Clark University

What made you join City Year?
I joined City Year knowing that students deserve to have someone on their side, believing that they can do anything.  

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
My favorite memory was watching proudly as my 5th grade students graduated elementary school, especially those who were convinced they wouldn’t. 

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
One of my literacy focus list students started off the year refusing to do her reading. By the end of the year, she was consistently the first one done with her reading and went up five reading levels.

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Communication, communication, communication! 

What are you most excited for this year?
I am most excited to get to know a new group of students and corps members, and watch them grow. 


Tiah Jacobs, 21
Service Leader
B
eech Street Elementary School Team ‘15
Stony Brook University 

What made you join City Year? 
I wanted to join an organization that’s core purpose was to help and support children in school.

What was your favorite memory from your year of service as a corps member? 
My favorite memory was performing at the ATR talent show with a member of my school team. 

Tell me about one student you mentored during your corps year. How did you see this student grow throughout the year? 
I had a student that had trouble connecting with other students in the class. She didn’t know how to build relationships with others, but by the end of the year she had many friends in and out of the classroom. She also began participating in clubs after school.

What is one piece of advice that you have for the incoming corps?
Remember to embrace the experience that is City Year, and to have fun!

What are you most excited for this year?
I’m excited to be in a new role and have a new City Year experience, and the new joys and challenges it will bring. 

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