2015-11-11

Tiffany Searles and Neil Batiancila, current Co-Chairs on the Alumni Board at City Year Philadelphia, have a shared passion for service and a strong belief in the mission of City Year.  Here, they offer some critical professional development advice to current corps members about their year of service.

Tiffany Searles, City Year Philadelphia Alumni Board

After her year as a team leader at New Foundations Charter School in ’10, Searles was immediately offered a full-time position as a liaison at her school.
 
 Tiffany Searles, pictured left served in the ’08-’09  and '09-'10 corps as a Team Leader. Her second year she was based at New Foundations Charter School K-8, her future employer.
 
Because of City Year, many alumni become valuable talent for urban schools, leading a new wave of diverse educators with the skills, experience, and mindset needed to create effective learning environments.
 
“I was always the first person there and the last person to leave, and someone noticed,” Searles remarked.  She is currently still employed at New Foundations Charter School as Director of Programs. Searles attributes her success to her strong work ethic and the high expectations put in place for her by City Year.
 
Although Searles' choice to stay in the education field is common for City Year alumni (An estimated 50% of City Year’s AmeriCorps members indicate an interest in teaching.1), many corps members find the City Year experience a professional development tool for a wide variety of careers.
 
Neil Batiacila, City Year Philadelphia Alumni BoardBatiancila, who is now the Executive Director of Campaign Operations at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), said his year of service “charted his career path”.  After originally considering Law School, Batincila decided to stay with City Year for ten years after his year as an AmeriCorps member.
 
“I wanted to do something different,” Batiancila recalled while reflecting on his original career plan. His true passion for service drove him to continue with City Year, and led him to his current position at CHOP.
 
Neil Batiancila served in the ‘99-‘00 corps at Hartranft Elementary School and married his City Year sweetheart. They are pictured to the  right with their children.
 
As alumni, Searles and Batiancila stress the importance of communication and networking; both during the service year and after. These foundational skills have helped them to become successful in their careers and as members of the Alumni Board.
 
The strong foundation laid by City Year is not only noticed first-hand by alumni, employers are noticing it too.
 
There are 30 teacher residency and certification programs that view the City Year experience 2 as a strong predictor of future success as an educator and more and more districts are seeing the value in accessing City Year alumni as a source of talent.
 
The value of the City Year experience also extends outside of the classroom. Last year, the Mayor of Philadelphia announced that the city was looking to hire AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni, giving individuals an extra five points on their civil service exam.
 
 
Companies that partner with City Year Philadelphia like Comcast, Deloitte, and Starbucks have also noticed the value in City Year alumni joining their teams. All three companies and others have recently hired previous corps members through the networking that City Year provides.
 
For Searles and Batiancila, becoming members of the City Year Philadelphia Alumni Board has allowed them to stay active members of the City Year community.  Searles, reflecting on why she joined the Alumni Board, stated, “I always try to surround myself with community and service-minded people.” She continued, “Alumni have great passion.”
 
As a Co-Chair, Batiancila knows he is able to “advocate the importance of the organization in an honest way” by using his years of hands-on experience at City Year.
 
“I want to help communities to be proud of and realize the potential of City Year,” Batiancila reiterated.
 
Searles and Batiancila hope that their personal stories can motivate corps members to have a strong and powerful year of service, even when it’s challenging. Searles and Batiancila prove that the skills learned through City Year not only benefit AmeriCorps members in their year of service, but can help lay a foundation for a successful career plan for after City Year.
 
Written by Denise Sciasci, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member 

The work of Denise and her team at G.W. Childs Elementary School is supported by Team Sponsor, CSX  and Program Sponsor, Lincoln Financial Foundation.

The next application deadline to join the City Year corps and our alumni network of over 20,000  is November 15. Click here to apply.

Source 1: City Year partnered with Bain & Company in 2013 to map out interest levels in teaching among corps members and define an approach to harness this rising interest and enhance the progression of corps members into the teaching profession.
Source 2: Experience is defined as “Education comprehensive leadership development and 1-2 years serving in a high-need, urban classroom.
Source 3:  Phila. Gives AmeriCorps and Peace Corps Alumnus Preferential Treatment in Hiring." Philly.com-archives. N.p., 14 Jan. 2015. Web. 04 Nov. 201
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