It’s October, and school is in full swing here in Philadelphia. The City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps members work long but rewarding days, to best serve our students. All of City Year’s AmeriCorps members complete 1,700 hours of service during the year. Here’s a snap shot of a typical day for a City Year AmeriCorps Member using Grover Washington Jr. Middle School as a spotlight. The school mantra of “work hard, play hard, represent!” is surely put in to practice by this City Year team of 21 members.
7:30-7:50 am: Time to circle up: the Grover City Year team convenes in our office to start our preparations for the day. In this space we make announcements for the week, and share “Joys and Appreciations” to celebrate each other and happy moments.
7:55-8:15 am: “Grover is what?” “RED HOT!” This is one of our “power chants” that AmeriCorps members use to welcome students to school, as well as to brighten up chilly October mornings. Power greeting is one particularly fun and silly way to engage with students. More importantly, it’s a crucial tool to get students excited about coming to school, and sometimes students join in on the chants. Plus, it’s a great way to wake up!
Get psyched! Pictured is the Grover team getting loose and funky for the students.
8:15 am: Once the students flood into the halls, each City Year AmeriCorps member heads their own way to their assigned class and students. Typically, each grade has a homeroom that travels to Math, Literacy, and Health & PE classes throughout the day. During lessons, City Year helps students with content, staying focused and on task, and conducting a “push in” if needed. A "push in" is an in-class intervention that all corps members do; we work with one or a few students while remaining in class, to provide extra help.
12:00-1:00 pm: Lunchtime is a great way to bond with students and work on social-emotional learning. While the students eat, corps members can build relationships with their students by playing games or just talking; it’s a wonderful way to extend the mentorship beyond the classroom. The lower grade levels also enjoy recess, and sometimes let corps members toss the football or just chase us around the courtyard.
Pictured is a 6th grade class mixing Kool-Aid and water to learn about ratios…yum!
Pictured is a Grover corps member working hard on her prep time.
3:19-4:45 pm: School is out…but not for City Year. At Grover and other City Year schools, AmeriCorps members organize after school clubs (including Spirit, Sports, Art, Anime, Board Games, Music) as well as Homework Zone, a space where students receive more academic support. We play, create, and learn in the City Year after school programs. Our corps members are jacks-of-all-trades!
Pictured is the Board Games club where students can play chess against corps members.
4:45-5:00 pm: The team ends together with our “Final Circle,”similar to our first morning meeting. We share our Joys and Appreciations again, before debriefing begins. Here we reunite to discuss the day and to prepare for another wonderful day of service.
5:30-7:30 pm:There are some service days that will go a little longer, such as in the case of a school event. Coming up for the corps members at Grover is the Fall Fest, which will be fun and autumn themed open to students, faculty, and parents. Some days might end in other forms of service, such as cleaning the neighborhood streets or heading to the City Year office for more prep work. City Year corps members often stay after hours to best serve their students and communities.
Each AmeriCorps member is assigned to one of five roles to focus on: Literacy, Math, Social-Emotional Learning, Extended Learning Time, and Attendance. Pictured is the Literacy team’s bulletin board that they use to promote reading, writing, and vocabulary.
By Shannon Fasanella, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member serving at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School