By Dan Kinney
Impact Manager for Plummer Elementary School and for the CSX Transportation team serving at Kimball Elementary School

Throughout this blog, you will see the plethora of blog posts from AmeriCorps members that have tips, tricks, best practices and kind words for City Year. As a veteran of City Year, I could write about what City Year means to an AmeriCorps member; I served two tough years filled with tears, sweat, expletives, hugs, ripped khakis and unbearably attractive red outerwear pieces. This post is not that post. If you really want to hear the heart and soul of City Year, ask the individuals in a red jacket next time you see them, ask them what their students are like, ask them how their team is doing and ask them if they need a spare dollar for 7-11 coffee.

City Year is more than red jackets and khaki pants. We are an organization about riding the waves, the ebbs and flows of society, and fitting where needed. Unless you’re an old geezer like my boss, you may not know that we have always focused on educational support. But where we see a need, we adhere to the situation and do whatever we can to address possible solutions. Our focus is finding new focuses, looking to the future, not at the present. That is why we have put young people in classrooms strategizing and dedicating time and effort to enlightening potential in students in the US, South Africa and the United Kingdom. We are at the front lines alongside the strongest soldiers we could find: teachers.

We are battling society in a war on ignorance. With headlines about the next police shooting, rape victim, hate crime or bombing, we must continue combat with all that we have in our arsenal. In my role, my weapons are thought-provoking social justice conversations, pizza to refuel my fleet of AmeriCorps members, and trainings on socio-emotional and academic tactics. For my AmeriCorps members, their weapons are the morning greetings, fractions reviews, de-escalation talks after a fight, sight word reviews, and the encouraging notes home.

Now, do not misunderstand. This war is not new. This war is not soon to be over. I choose to work as a manager of two teams so that I can have the largest possible taskforce of warriors determined to make a dent in the amount of impact we need to make these days. To toot my own horn, I am deeply dedicated to the DC community and will do what it takes to make sure my AmeriCorps members are akin to this ideal mentality for City Year. City Year, like our students, thrives on investment; thus, our war is not just City Year’s. The entire nation must invest in our fight to end ignorance, to change the world we currently live in to make sure that the next seven generations start on the right foot.

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