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Three reasons I decided to serve another City Year

If you told me during summer training that I would become a Second Year AmeriCorps Member, I would have told you that’s crazy talk! I planned to give a year, make better happen, and attend graduate school using my Segal Education award. However, everything changed in January 2018 when a City Year staff member encouraged me to extend my future with City Year. After a month of exploring my options, three reasons inspired my decision to apply and serve another city year.

Professional Development. The success I had as a First Year AmeriCorps Member was guided by the people who provided me support in my daily responsibilities and future aspirations. Our City Year Learning and Development Days were filled with relevant school trainings, mock practices for coaching our students, and workshops to build our professional portfolios. A Teach for America alumna provided a workshop on making the most of our LinkedIn and I was able to redesign my entire LinkedIn profile using her advice. During a visit to a potential graduate school, I was connected with an AmeriCorps alumnus who was also a Second Year Masters student. He connected with me via LinkedIn and helped me prepare my graduate school applications.

Teamwork. During my first service year, I learned City Year’s value of teamwork means striving to work together in a unified effort to achieve a goal, such as planning a school-wide event, activity, or a student’s tutoring session. Our event’s success was always tied to how effectively everyone on our team played their part, as there were many responsibilities: contacting businesses for food donations, rounding up school staff volunteers, creating marketing materials, etc. When planning my students’ tutoring sessions, I counted on my Math coordinator, a City Year teammate, to provide me feedback so I could create the most relevant lessons for my students’ lives, such as budgeting for a Spring Break vacation. Through this consistent teamwork, City Year taught me that while the work we do is hard, our teammates always have our back.

Student success coach. I believe some students are overlooked. Maybe a kid is quietly going through the motions but has no idea what’s going on in class. Perhaps another kid is an excellent reader praised by the teacher but really struggles with text anxiety. Growing up, I was often overlooked by my teachers and although I made amazing grades, I struggled to understand the material on my own. My low self-esteem led me to shut down whenever I failed at something. As a City Year student success coach, I’m coaching my students to practice help-seeking behavior. I serve to create an environment where students feel comfortable asking for tips and trust there are adults who are available in their times of need.

It has been half a year since I began my second service term, and I’m working in a new school and team. Although my position asks me to lead by example and be a role model to children, every day is an opportunity to learn and be inspired by the students I serve for.

Nathan Sulapas serves as a Second Year AmeriCorps member at Sarah King Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas. 

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