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by Emily Hudson, City Year Providence AmeriCorps member

In order to have a successful day serving students, City Year AmeriCorps members must remember to have an open heart, positive mind and can-do attitude. Service can be long, challenging and overwhelming, but when an AmeriCorps member has these three qualities, the long days become even more rewarding, fulfilling and heartwarming. It’s easy to remember the small details like all of your uniform pieces; but, if you do happen to forget them, the school day will still go on. Students will still be able to learn and AmeriCorps members will be able to connect and form relationships with students, as long as they come to school mindful and ready to serve. As you read below, you’ll get a glimpse into what a typical day is like for a City Year AmeriCorps member at Roger Williams Middle School.

5:30 a.m. | Wake up: Most mornings our team is up before the sun rises in order to get ready for the day. This includes making sure our khakis and uniform pieces are ironed and our lunches are packed, all while making a quick breakfast to fill our bellies before running out the door with coffee in hand to get to school on time.

6:45 a.m. | Leave for School: Most City Year Providence AmeriCorps members rely on the public bus system to commute to and from school, and all City Year Providence AmeriCorps members receive a free bus pass at the beginning of the year. We’re usually out the door by 6:45 a.m. in order to make it to the bus stop on time. Our red jackets tend to stand out, so it’s not uncommon to receive a “thank you” during our commutes from people who know our work or questions about what we do.

A picture of the sunrise in Federal Hill taken by City Year AmeriCorps member Sigal Palley during her commute to school

7:30 a.m. | Arrive at School: The team arrives at Roger Williams Middle School by 7:30 each morning. We gather to go over any major announcements and to make sure we have the necessary tools and supplies so that we can all start the day ready to serve. During this time, we also share appreciations, joys, hardships, or offer insight into our personal lives so that we ask for support from our teammates and assist them with anything they may need.

7:50 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | School Day: The majority of our day is spent serving students. We focus on building relationships with our students and supporting them to meet their unique needs, whether it’s math and literacy tutoring, leadership development or attendance coaching. Throughout the day we interact with students during their arrival to school, their four classes that we attend, lunch and dismissal. We have the opportunity to leave an impact on roughly 75 students per AmeriCorps member, multiplied by a team of nine, which means we’re able to leave a lasting impact on the school community.

During the school day, we’re also responsible for planning tutoring sessions, being present for school-wide initiatives and attending coaching sessions with our managers to help us better serve our students. Down time is minimal throughout the day as there is always something to be done in order to #makebetterhappen.

A tutoring session happening in the City Year office at Roger Williams Middle School

During lunchtime, the City Year office is packed with students taking a break from their academic day to expand on their leadership skills

Two students participate in the Anti-Bullying campaign organized by City Year Providence and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence

3:00 p.m. | Schools out: At Roger Williams, the school day ends at 2:45 p.m. for our students. During dismissal, the team is staggered throughout the courtyard of our school checking in with students, asking how their days went and saying our goodbyes as they head home for the evening. 

Recently, my team has started to wave goodbye to the busses as they pull away from the school. What started as a fun way to end a long week, has now become a daily routine that the students on the bus eagerly wait for their turn to wave back to the City Year AmeriCorps members as their bus drives down the streets.

Waving goodbye to our students after a day of school

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  | Afterschool: Even though the day is over for our students, it’s not over for City Year. We’re lucky to be able to partner with Providence After School Alliance (PASA) and assist them with their afterschool program, AfterZone. This not only gives us more opportunities to spend time and bond with students, but it also allows us the opportunity to share our interests and passions with them. The team really enjoys afterschool programs because we often get to see the fun, energetic and competitive side of students that may not always shine through during the school day.

When AfterZone isn’t provided, the team is working to further our training, holding meetings or prepping for the upcoming school days. These two hours in the afterschool space may sound like a lot, but at the end of each day we always find ourselves wishing for more time so we can accomplish more tasks.

We are lucky to be able to partner with the Providence After School Alliance and  participate in afterschool activities with our students. The activities vary from dodgeball and kickball to card games and coloring.

5:00 p.m. | Going home: Just as we start each day with a circle, we do the same at the end of day to debrief and review what’s on deck for the next day. The final circle is usually filled with laughter and inspiring stories about students, which ends the day on a positive note before heading home. 

Most of us arrive home by 6 p.m., which gives us just enough time to reflect on the day and to try and clear our minds before arriving home to cooking dinner, take care of household responsibilities and, for some, work part time jobs.  

On average, our days last about twelve hours from the time we leave our houses in the morning until the time we arrive home after school. We wake up before the sun rises and often don’t arrive home until after the sun sets. The days can be long and draining and sometimes overwhelming, but every smile, every “Good Morning Miss/ Mr.”, every “Can I have lunch with you?” and every “I am so glad that you are in our class!” makes each day worth it. Our students deserve nothing but the best, so each morning we make sure to bring our open hearts, positive minds and can-do attitude to ensure our students have a positive, welcoming and caring environment at school. It’s a tough job, but we love and cherish every minute of it.

Follow Emily and the rest of the Hasbro team at Roger Williams Middle School as they continue to serve Providence students this school year at @CityYearRWMS

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