City Year Power Greeting Promotes Attendance and a Positive School Environment
By Kathryn Locke, AmeriCorps member serving on the Gossler Park Elementary School Team, sponsored by City Year New Hampshire Alumni.
Each weekday, I wake up promptly at 5:30 am. I start my day with a nice cup of coffee and immediately begin getting dressed in my uniform, putting my hair up, and packing my lunch. I barely have time to make a smoothie for breakfast before I run out the door. Oh, and don’t forget the name tag!
I make it to the Hartnett Parking Lot just in time to meet with my team and complete our readiness check. After we ensure that each team member is accounted for and that we are prepared for the day, we jump into carpools and head for our respective schools, letting the coffee sink in and catching up with our team for the quick five minutes that we spend in the car.
We arrive at school in what looks like a clown car as we each step out, one-by-one, with upwards of three bags, a jacket or sweater, water bottle, and coffee mug at minimum. We schlep ourselves and our personal items into our team space, quickly throw them in a pile, and head outside.
By this time, it feels like I have lived an entire day already and am ready for another cup of coffee and a nap, even though it is only 8:15 in the morning. But at this point, it’s time for us to welcome our students to school and help them start their days off right.
At 8:15am, the Gossler Park team walks outside for our morning Power Greeting, spreading ourselves out along the sidewalk as the students begin to arrive at school. We are the first people they see as they walk toward the entrance from various directions. Our iconic red jackets shine bright in the rising sun as the students run toward us in excitement. Our goal with Power Greeting is to get students pumped for school and begin their day with positivity. We accomplish this by waving, smiling, and saying “good morning!” as students stick out their hands for high fives on their way by. “I am so happy you are here today,” and “welcome to school!” are common phrases that can be heard in the mornings from City Year members. Many students give us hugs and are greeted by name – even students who are not in our respective classrooms. As City Year members, we strive to create a schoolwide environment that radiates positivity, safety, and a love for learning. Beginning the day with a genuine smile, a friendly “good morning,” and a positive affirmation can be all a child needs to be successful that day.
By the time the last child has entered the building, I can’t help but be excited to begin my day, too. Suddenly, the exhaustion, sluggishness, and need for coffee has melted away. Because of the smiles I witnessed on the faces of the students at Gossler Park School, I remember why I get up at 5:30 in the morning: to get ready to inspire young people to do their best, and to make them feel valued. Their success is my motivation to get out of bed and tackle each day with a purpose.