By Molly Hennessey, first year AmeriCorps member at Henry Wilson Elementary School supported by Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Wire Belt (pictured above, far left, with her team on Opening Day)
The past six years of my life have been dedicated to the education, success, and happiness of students. I attended Saint Anselm College in Manchester NH, and decided to pursue the studies of elementary education. I have always had a love of teaching, and through my education I had the opportunity to do my student teaching at Henry Wilson Elementary School in a first grade classroom. It was through this experience that I was able to meet one of the City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps members in a third grade classroom and talk to her about what City Year is and why she was doing it. After finishing up my student teaching experience in December, I finished my last classes at Saint Anselm College and graduated in the spring.
After graduating in 2015 with an elementary education degree, I was still not quite ready to dive into the teaching world. I thought living at home would be the easiest plan, and took a job as a teacher’s aid in a kindergarten inclusive classroom in Brockton, MA. I thought this would be a good way to gain experience in a classroom setting. It was not until speaking with friends serving with both City Year Boston and New Hampshire that I decided to look into the program. I decided that City Year should be my next step. It would combine both service and classroom experience, two things that I was looking for.
After being accepted into City Year New Hampshire for the 2016-2017 year, I was placed at Henry Wilson Elementary School, the same place I student taught first graders. I now serve in third grade, with some of students I student taught two years ago. My student teaching experience was one semester long and I cannot wait to experience teaching for a full school year. It has been amazing to see students I previously taught in my new third grade classroom! As a City Year, my role in the classroom is a bit different. I no longer take over full lessons; instead, I pull small groups for English, math, and behavior. It is nice to have the responsibility of tracking groups in the classroom, and focusing on a smaller pool of students. It is also nice to have the teaching experience I have had and incorporate it into the City Year curriculum for the success of my students.
I would recommend City Year to an education major because it furthers your knowledge in the education field. It gives a different perspective on teaching than seen in most college courses. You have the opportunity to pull small groups for English/language arts, math, and socioemotional learning. Because these lessons are small group based, everything can be differentiated to the individual needs of students. My year of service with City Year has added value to my experience, because it has prepared me to be a classroom teacher. I have learned new and useful techniques and ideas from my cooperating teacher. I have also learned collaboration through working with my team of nine at Henry Wilson Elementary School.
I am excited to one day have a classroom of my own. Through my experience at Saint Anselm College, student teaching, being a teacher’s aid, and being an AmeriCorps member in City Year New Hampshire, I have learned a great deal. I have been able to take over the role of the classroom teacher, assume the role of a general helper in the classroom, and assume the role of a coach. I am delighted to see what comes next!