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We all know going back to school is an exciting time for students. There's so much to look forward to when starting a brand new school year, but sometimes there are some back-to-school jitters too. And, our City Year AmeriCorps members, in many ways, are no different than the students they serve.

Read on to learn more about about what our AmeriCorps members are both excited, and maybe a little nervous about, as they head back to school (many for the first time since graduating themselves).

Raven Watkins, Senior AmeriCorps Member & Team Leader Serving at Hale Jr. High

Raven Watkins, Senior AmeriCorps Member & Middle School Team LeaderQ: Where did you hear about City Year, and why did you decide to serve?

A: I had just finished earning my associate’s degree and was taking a break from college. I was unsatisfied with my summer job because I felt like there was a just greater purpose I could be serving with the work I was doing before going back to school.

I heard about City Year in a pretty unusual way. I was watching my little brother play at one of Tulsa’s community parks, when a City Year staff member who was there recruiting came up and chatted with me about the benefits of serving with City Year. That staff member even got into the fountain where my little brother was playing as we chatted.

Seeing that kind of passion and enthusiam about the work made me interested in learning more. And, once I did my homework on City Year’s impact and organization, my friends and framily helped me realize this was an incredible opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up. City Year has helped so many kids all around the world, and it was just something I felt like I was called to do, especially since I hadn’t felt fully-engaged in my previous jobs up to this point.

Q: What have you thought about your time serving with City Year so far?

A: It’s been incredibly inspiring to meet other young people who have a passion for serving their community as well as a desire to better themselves. Everyone has gotten along so well, and I can tell my team tries to include and incorporate eveyone's ideas, which I thinks is a great skill to learn and have as a young professional.

Q: What has it been like for your students and yourself as you all return back to school?

A: I've had a lot of memories of myself as a student rush back as I've started interacting with students. I know that many of my students are transitioning from being “top dogs” in elementary school and may now feel nervous about being the youngest again in middle school.

And, I think these are the important years when kids are learning so much about themselves and begin to grow up. I’m just excited to see and help them grow.

Q: Do you have any back-to-school jitters or things you might be nervous about?

A: I'm not necessarily nervous about returning to school, but I'm just trying to empathize with the feelings my students may have based on what I remember middle school was like for me.

Q: What sort of goals do you have for your students and yourself this upcoming school year?

A: Being a new school partnership, I want my team to set the tone here at Hale Jr. High, so that everyone knows just how great City Year can be for years to come.

I also want to build strong relationships with my students. I just want them to know City Year is here for them; that we have their back, because I want to see them go on to high school ready to succeed and graduate.

Andrew Maguire, AmeriCorps Member Serving at Hale High School

Andrew Maguire, AmeriCorps member serving high school students in Tulsa, OK

Q: Where did you hear about City Year, and why did you decide to serve?

A: I was already familiar with AmeriCorps because a few of my family members and coworkers had previously participated in other AmeriCorps programs. So, when I found an education-focused program with City Year, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

I mean, I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher since I was a freshman in high school. Before City Year, I was working with and after-school/summer camp for kids. I don’t have a degree in education, but I’ll eventually go to school for it. I just love working with kids.

Q: What are you most excited about this year?

A: It’s just been really exciting actually getting into the school and starting to interact with the students. It’s brought back a lot of memories seeing these freshmen navigate their first days of high school because I remember how awkward and unsure of myself I was at their age.

Q: What are you most nervous about?

A: Well, I know first impressions are important and can stick with you for the rest of the school year, so I just don’t want to come on too strong and my students think I’m overbearing or them feel a certain way about me that may deter them from working with me this year. No pressure, I guess.

Q: What do you hope to gain from your experience serving with City Year?

A: I would actually like to get my butt kicked a little bit. I really want to challenge myself, both professionally and personally this year, and I think it will help me gain a little humility and understanding for how difficult this work can be.

I've never participated in a program this “hands-on” or “intensive” and I want to have as much practical experience working in the classroom as possible.

Q: And, what do you hope your students can achieve this year?

A: Honestly, I just hope they can… well, make it through ninth grade. Ninth grade was a really difficult time for me growing up, and I was actually very close to dropping out of high school myself.

I just remember feeling very confused about everything in my life, and I hope I can help them get through some of what I struggeled with.

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