Interview: Conversations with our Students

By Elijah Fanelli, City Year AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America Team at Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 Pilot School.

As a City Year corps member, I serve in a 6th grade humanities classroom and help facilitate one of the Young Achievers after-school programs, HASP (Homework After-School Support Program). Through both of these settings, I have been able to watch several of my students grow both personally and academically. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of these incredible young adults. Below is the conversation we had.

Me: Hello!
S (Student)
: Hi.

Me: So, first question. What do you think City Year does best?
: I think the thing that City Year does best is they help people out with their work and also help people with difficult situations.

Me: Ok, can you give me an example of what a difficult situation might be that City Year helped you out with, or that you saw City Year help someone else with?
S: If somebody has a bad day, they’ll talk to them one on one and help them out and figure out strategies to get them through the day.

Me: Is there an area that you think City Year has personally helped you out with over the course of the year?
: Ummm…Not really…

Me: I think I’ve noticed a few huge things. One is that you’ve been getting down to work really well. Even if you get upset, you’ve been able to get back to work in just a few minutes. Remember how hard that was at the beginning of the year?
: Yeah, I guess. I have gotten better there. Continue reading

On Mission to Change the World: Transforming Passion into Action

By Elijah Fanelli, City Year AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America Team at Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 Pilot School.

As a senior in high school applying for colleges, I was woefully ignorant of the other options available to me. I had always been a straight shooter in life, destined to go directly from high school to a decent university, continue on to graduate level work, and then settle down into the daily grind of the working world. Sure, I had a vague understanding of what AmeriCorps was and heard mentions of City Year from NPR and my mother – who, interestingly enough, has spent most of her career working in New Haven Public Schools researching the very same attendance, behavior, and coursework interventions that I carry out here at City Year Boston. It is probable that if I weren’t so stubbornly set on following my pre-conceived “normal” educational track, I would have listened to my mother’s suggestions of taking a gap year after high school into greater consideration. Looking back on that time, I wish I had.

Bank of America Team serving at Young Achievers Science and Mathematics K-8 Pilot School

Fortunately, my path eventually did end up crossing City Year, after an successful semester-long stint in college. I entered City Year as a nineteen-year-old college dropout.

City Year has a habit of attracting passionate people—people who desperately want to change the world (see above). I am one of those people, but before joining the ranks of the Red Jacketed and khaki clad City Year corps members, I certainly did not possess the necessary skills to carry out this life mission. I did not have the organizational or logistical knowledge necessary to plan and execute an event. I did not possess the discipline to get up at 7:00AM and not get home until 9:30PM in pursuit of the change I wanted to see in the world. I did not have the perseverance to push onward when progress was non-existent, or even sliding in a negative direction.

City Year has given me these qualities – or more precisely, City Year has facilitated personal growth for me in many areas. Through the powerful City Year community, structured environment, rigorous training, and strong leadership teams, I have grown in more ways than I ever would have imagined possible in eight short months. Personally, I feel that every American citizen should give a year of service, not just to help improve the lives of others, but also to better themselves as individuals.

I entered City Year as a nineteen-year-old college dropout. I will be leaving City Year as an empowered individual with the tools necessary to successfully complete my education and launch powerfully into a life-long mission to positively change the world.

Wordless Wednesday: Historical Photos of Boston Schools

By Elijah Fanelli, City Year AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America Team at Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 Pilot School.

As I was browsing around online for photographs of my service site – Young Achievers – I ran across the City of Boston Archives Flickr account. Along with scores of historical photographs of schools within the Boston Public School system, there are also hundreds of photos from all over the city! Below, I compiled a collection of historical photographs of some of the buildings that City Year serves in. I encourage you to check out more photos here.

Young Achievers, formerly the Solomon Lewenberg School | Source
Young Achievers Science and Mathematics K-8 Pilot School - Mattapan, MA

Harbor Pilot Middle School, formerly the Grover-Cleavland School | Source
Harbor Pilot Middle School - Dorchester, MA
English High School | Source
English High School - Jamaica Plain, MA Continue reading

Wordless Wednesday: Putting Idealism To Work (PITW) – an Inspiring Infographic

By Elijah Fanelli, AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America team at Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 Pilot School

Teach Me How To Tuck It!

By Elijah Fanelli, corps member serving on the Bank of America team at Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 Pilot School

Of the myriad professionalism requirements here at City Year Boston, a tucked in shirt is near the top of the list.  At our service site’s Basic Training Retreat (BTR), the corps received an excellent presentation entitled “Teach Me How To Tuck It!” I now welcome our very own Linden Ladies to the City Year Boston media main stage!

Check out the lyrics below!

Continue reading

Red Jackets for Peace

Written by Erin O’Donnell, corps member serving on the Comcast Team at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School

Being a part of City Year extends beyond serving in schools. It is also about creatively engaging the community and finding ways to support local social change initiatives that are already established. The Peace Walk that happens on a bi-weekly basis through Project RIGHT, a foundation  that works to stabilize neighborhoods in Dorchester and Roxbury, is one such example.

Members of the Comcast Team participating in Project RIGHT's Peace Walk.

The Peace Walk that took place on October 12th left me with a feeling of solidarity that I have never quite experienced. The Comcast Team serving at the Burke High School joined local community members in walking through the streets of Grove Hall in Dorchester.  The voices of children and mothers on their balconies and porches joined us in the chant: “What do we want? Peace! What do we need? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” Every day I am reminded that the quality of their school environment and educators is only a small part of unlocking our students’ potential. The ability of a student to perform well in school is heavily influenced by the stability of community and family life. In an area steeped in violent history, seeing people united in the name of peace, and more importantly,  hearing that message boldly echoing from the mouths of the community’s youth, sent a wave of inspiration over me.

As we stood together on busy street corners along Blue Hill Avenue during rush hour, holding up signs that read, “Honk for peace,” it struck me that, oddly enough, this cacophony of truck, school bus, and car horns blasting away as they drove past came together to create one of the most beautiful symphonies I have ever heard.