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Serving a Second Year

I went back and forth a lot last year, wrestling with the idea of serving another year with City Year. However, when Covid-19 came along and totally uprooted the way we lived and worked day to day, and quite frankly exposed a lot of the shortcomings of the education system, it made up my mind. Any school year is full of challenges, but add in a global pandemic and virtual learning, and I knew that the schools, teachers, and students could use as much support as they could get.

I had originally applied to come back as a Second Year and continue working with students, but a few weeks before Basic Training Academy I was offered the Team Leader position. I was really interested in stepping into more of a leadership role, and being able to use my experiences to help the new Corps members coming in this year, and so of course I accepted.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this year. When school closures happened in March, there was a whole bunch of chaos and unknowns, and shifting our work into the virtual space didn’t work out for all of the school teams. Some of us, myself included, were sort of stuck in this grey area of still serving, but doing more of professional development trainings and activities. I was able to support in only a few Zoom calls, and so I was hopeful but skeptical coming into the second year of service.

Now two months in and my hopefulness has grown a lot more than my skepticism. This year’s Corps started off Basic Training Academy full hearts in, and seeing the passion, creativeness, and hard work they’ve been putting in while serving in the middle of a pandemic has been so remarkable. I’m impressed more and more each day. And getting to know my team serving at Rhodes Middle School has truly made these past few weeks fly by. Being able to serve alongside these individuals has been inspiring and I can’t wait to see what all we accomplish during this school year.

Of course there are still plenty of headaches, as we are still virtual and trying to work with technology that doesn’t always want to work with us. Talking to yourself when in reality you’ve really been on mute for the past ten minutes has basically become a norm. While my team has been able to login and begin to help support their partner teachers, there are plenty of hurdles we have to work around that really limit the amount of help they can really provide. And many of the frustrations that come with a regular service year, like how to even go about building those positive relationships with students, are only heightened in the virtual setting.

Leading a team through situations we don’t have much if any control over and trying to coach them on things I don’t always have experience with has been quite tough. However, I’ve already seen so many innovative ways the education system and our Corps have been adapting and I have no doubt that by the end of the year all the hard work and frustration will be totally worth it. Because let’s face it, we are an organization full of Idealists, and what’s going to stop us from making the most of this year.

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