Today's guest blogger is Alex Phillips, an Americorps Member at I.S. 204Q.


At I.S. 204Q, Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School in Long Island City, Queens, there really is “no place like Holmes.” I.S. 204Q’s partnership with City Year makes the school unique. With a school containing students from all over the world, staff members from different backgrounds, and a diverse team of City Year Corps members, I.S. 204Q provides a well-rounded learning environment for students.  Check out just a few of the activities going on in our school:

City Year AmeriCorps members at I.S. 204Q put a lot of hard work into making school fun and exciting for our  6th, 7th and 8th graders. Involving students in more social and academic opportunities helps them gain useful skills for the future, and at I.S. 204Q, our team has created initiatives to get students to own their learning.

The City Year literacy and math coordinators on our team have created projects called “Word of the Week” and “Mathopoly.” These initiatives provide students with new vocabulary words or math problems (difficulty depending on their grade level) each week. Students are asked to write a paragraph containing the vocabulary word and/or answer a math problem successfully. If their answer is correct or their paragraph complete, they are entered in a drawing at the end of each month  for gift cards, toys, or leadership roles in the school. We like it because students get excited about learning new words and working on their math skills.

The attendance coordinator on our team has started a new initiative called “Motivational Mondays.” Every Monday, we set up a table in the main entrance when the students arrive to school. Students, staff and corps members are asked to write some sort of thank-you or appreciation to someone in the school. During lunch, we then hand out the notes to everyone who received one. We do this not only to create positive relationships throughout the entire school, but also to motivate students to start each week with perfect attendance. This practice encourages students to come to school because they look forward to receiving positive recognition. 

We also start each school day with a lot of positive energy. Our team greets the students at the entrance of the school, rain or shine. We are excited to see our students and they are excited to see us. Our favorite day of the week, however, is High-Five-Thursday, where the students have to “high-five to get by.” The energy continues throughout the day and on to the next Motivational Monday.

Each individual on our team works very hard to build relationships with students, teachers and administration at I.S. 204Q. We’ve had a great start to the year so far and are excited to make a difference in the school and community we serve. Feel free to follow our team’s Instragram account @CYNY_IS204Q and see how we #makebetterhappen. 

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