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Building The Infrastructure For Student Success

AmeriCorps in action with City Year San Antonio

The day I was selected to be City Year San Antonio’s English Language Arts Coordinator for Sam Houston High School was a very memorable one! It was then that I made it my goal to establish a bilingual student journal worthy of the uniquely bright and curious minds I had taught so far during my year of Americorps service.

Overcoming limited after school options

Sadly, for many Sam Houston Hurricanes, their academic learning and professional skill-building stops when they leave the classroom because there are very limited options after the school day is done. Therefore, my primary goal has always been that the Sam Houston Student Journal (SHSJ) would not just be about training future journalists but also would provide students a space to cultivate skills important to a young adult’s professional and academic future.

Creating space to grow outside of the classroom

Providing students the space to grow outside of classrooms and cultivate life, professional, and academic skills is not only the SHSJs most important function but the most important function of school newspapers everywhere. These include but are not limited to: creative and critical thinking, collaboration, effective and efficient writing, personal responsibility, and purposeful communication. My most dedicated students thus far are members of other extracurricular activities such as band, ROTC, or a sports team. However, none are engaged in an activity outside of the classroom that cultivated them both professionally and academically at the same time. The creation of the SHSJ filled a critical gap in the school’s infrastructure for student success

The opportunity to build infrastructure

City Year AmeriCorps members hear far too often that students are not willing to engage in school, and are unmotivated. We see this manifest itself in students being overidentified for Special Education services, suspended, kicked out of class, etc. The reality is that these exclusionary disciplines are creating disconnected students. I have seen that there is an abundance, not a shortage of, students who want to grow academically, creatively, and professionally. The risks that come with denying this truth are enormous. It is our privilege to seize the opportunity to build the academic and professional infrastructure that will enable our students to be successful in the real world.Starting our own publication was a big call to action but the process was relatively simple. We started by identifying students who might be interested in a student journal. With the help of our Impact Manager and Team Leader, we presented our initiative to our school’s City Year Liaison. When we had the green light, we organized our club, set a date to meet, and began to get the word out.A big part of my work has been to ensure SHSJ is self-sustaining and continues to operate after my year of service has concluded. In the interest of this, I have established partnerships and advisor roles with teachers and members of the administration. We have reached out to all grade levels so that when one group graduates there is another ready to take its place. This will be incentivized by the creation of editorial positions that students will be able to proudly list on their resumes.

Beyond the student journal

Our desire was also to find a platform for students to have their writing published beyond the SHSJ. This is where The Iris a newspaper “By the youth. For the youth.” comes in. The Iris is a newspaper produced by high school students from across the world – from New York City to Syria. This publication allows the Sam Houston Student Journal’s writers a platform to be published and have their voices heard globally, and they are always looking for more student contributors!

As a City Year AmeriCorps member, we have the unique ability to build something for our school that lasts beyond our service. Look around the school: is there an academic decathlon team, a Model United Nations, a student journal, a student council? If the answer is no, then we should take action. City Year AmeriCorps members have the ability to build roads and bridges to carry the next generation onward and add to our school’s infrastructure for student success. So, what are you waiting for?

Taco Bell Foundation is a Program Sponsor of the AmeriCorps Team serving at Sam Houston High School

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First Year AmeriCorps member, Liam Malik Pelosky serves the AmeriCorps team at Sam Houston High School. Liam is originally from Westford, Massachusetts, and graduated from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire before joining City Year San Antonio. He is an English Language Arts Coordinator for City Year San Antonio and is a skilled public speaker, writer, and leader. He wrote a story about the importance of the school’s infrastructure for student success that highlights the important role AmeriCorps members play by establishing clubs that enrich the lives of the students they serve. 


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