Our resolutions have been made, our goals are SMART, and as 2016 unfolds, the City Year AmeriCorps Members at Sam Houston High School are prepared to tackle our nation’s dropout crisis with spirit, discipline, purpose, and a generous dosage of Hurricane pride. After spending the first half of our service year immersing ourselves in both the cultures of City Year and Sam Houston, learning our team dynamics, and studying the social, economic, and educational landscape of the community in which we serve, we utilized our winter break to reevaluate our reasons for serving and to reflect upon our goals for the new year.

We surveyed our AmeriCorps Members regarding their goals for the new year. After compiling all of the responses, all of the answers shared similar themes and fell into four major categories: Planning, Communication, Persistence and Connection. Below are our team’s responses on the lessons we’ve learned thus far, and the ways we will #makebetterhappen as we move forward in the year.

“Planning for the new school year pays off in bunches!”

“My goal for the second half of the year is to be more proactive in my City Year experience. By nature, I am a very observant person, so I spent a great deal of my first six months analyzing, observing and adjusting. For the second half of the year, I want to be more assertive in my service experience both in and out of the classroom. I also want to incorporate more self-care and stress management into my routine that doesn't involve binge watching Netflix and eating copious amounts of food.”
“I think the most important lesson I've learned thus far is the importance of not only communicating, but doing so effectively on a large team. One of my goals for this year was to become a better team player, and to not isolate myself from those I work closest with. Although at times it has been a challenge learning to navigate through obstacles and find solutions, it has proven to be beneficial and I am thankful to be working alongside some of the brightest minds in San Antonio!”

“I learned more about myself as a person... and how important communication is.”
“I learned the importance of never giving up on a student.  It is amazing to see how the most difficult students, the ones who you feel you're not reaching, react to your absence or a lack of attention.  I think that one of the most important things we do every day is come to school with a smile and a clean slate for each and every student, no matter how hard it is.”

“I learned the importance and value of patience.  I learned how important it is to value each student and their abilities because sometimes they go unseen.”

“I've learned that time flies, and energy is easily drained, but that love and positivity get you through the day.”
“Some lessons learned from the first half of the year are found in the relationship portion of our service. I learned the most important part of what we do is connecting with the students, staff, faculty, and fellow AmeriCorps Members.”

“I hope that next semester at least some of my students are willing to come to me before a situation has reached crisis level.  I spend so much of my time helping students deal with situations that could have been easily avoided if only they felt comfortable coming to me earlier or if they were willing to put in the work over an extended period of time.  I think that planning and open communication are life skills that all of our students can work on developing.”

 “My number one goal for the second half of the year is to create more lasting connections with the students. I want this to extend beyond City Year so that I am not another person in their lives that leaves them. I want to do something that matters and that means something that extends beyond just one year.”
“I hope to improve as a tutor and push my students to try harder and value their education. I hope to strengthen my relationships with my students.”
“I hope that that everyone feels the deeper meaning and reward of this job.”
“I hope to form deeper bonds with my students, to prepare them for success, and to figure out my own steps to success.”
As we matriculate into the second month of the new year, we are already seeing the benefits of our time of reflection.  By applying learned lessons and having a clear vision of the future, we move to set and meet more ambitious goals for the remainder of our service year.

-Athena DeGregoria

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