John Deming (back left), City Year Team Leader at Audenreid Junior High poses with his team at the beginning of the year. 

John Deming served his first City Year as an AmeriCorps member and is now the visionary team leader at Charles Y. Audenried Junior High School. John feels proud of the work that his team has accomplished so far this year.

Deming describes being a team leader as the most challenging experience he has taken on but is grateful for the opportunity because it has allowed him to grow significantly as a young professional. When you’re a team leader, everyone is looking to you for direction.  “It’s very similar to the first day of class as an AmeriCorps member, when kids are looking to you for answers, only this time around it is peers who are watching you to set the example,” said Deming. As a team leader, it is important to Deming that his teammates learn from his first-year pitfalls.

One piece of advice Deming took away from his first year as an AmeriCorps member was to be mentor first and a friend second to students. Deming explains, “Once you establish relationship norms with your students, it is extremely difficult to break those norms.”

Deming believes that as a team leader you should possess three important qualities: adaptability, dedication, and organization.

Deming explains, “The easiest way to be adaptable in my opinion is to have the humility to understand that we are all young professionals and we all have qualities that can be improved upon. Even if it is a skill that you pride yourself in, every team is different and you may have to adjust how you think something should be done to accommodate your team.”

“In any leadership position, one must be dedicated to working hard and accomplishing the mission at hand. Even if you naturally are inclined to think that ‘good enough’ is fine, this mindset is unacceptable in any leadership position. It is your responsibility to lead the best possible team you can and in order to do this, the mindset ‘good enough’ is not good enough,” says Deming.

“Admittedly I could do a better job of scheduling my time out which is the new frontier of improvement for me,” said Deming. With a small but mighty team of 7 AmeriCorps members, and over 50 ninth graders that need extra support, Deming says organization “is essential for keeping up efficiency on [his] team.”

When asked to summarize his second year experience, Deming expressed that coming back to City Year is a highly rewarding experience that has enriched his professional development. “I was happy to return to a classroom and put all that I had learned in my first year to good use. However, I am also happy that I applied to be a team leader because I enjoy working with my team. It has been a wonderful and difficult experience. It is something worth considering if you have any interest in managing people in the future.”

Written by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member, Desmond Harrell serving at Universal Alcorn Middle Years Academy

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