By: Meghan Donohue, Corps Member Proudly Serving on the Albemarle Foundation Team at Belaire High School
With May approaching and school coming to an end, this last month of service is bittersweet for everyone. Trying to find closure with our students is imperative and heartfelt. Reflecting on our impact is empowering and sentimental. Thinking about our life after City Year is both anxious and hopeful. It’s an emotional final stage, and everyday we push to end things on a lasting idealistic note for our students, the Baton Rouge community, and the City Year organization as a whole.
Thankfully, I will not have to say goodbye just yet. Instead, it will be see you later. Inspired by my enthusiasm for City Year and desire to better myself as a leader, starting in July, I will commit to a second year of service as a Senior Corps Member here at CYBR!
Why am I coming back? I have a few reasons…
I know my second year of service as a Team Leader will look very different from my first. I will still be in the schools, but my direct focus will not be on the students. Cultivating a team culture, supporting first-year Corps Members, and maintaining school relations will be my priorities. Although I will miss working in the classroom first hand, writing lesson plans, and running interventions with my Focus List students, I’ve accepted this challenge because I believe in City Year and I want to help next year’s corps discover this belief. I’m returning for a second year because I want to see CYBR deepen it’s impact, continuing to improve student achievement in the public schools in which we serve.
The Team Leader role defined:
“Team Leaders are school based Senior Corps Members who lead team initiatives such as school related projects and community engagement. In addition they support their Program Manager in maintaining sustainable school house relationships and service delivery. Throughout the service year they work with their teams to provide peer coaching in increasing their service delivery and navigating their corps experience.”
PITW # 54 Build the site. Build the organization. Build national service.
This PITW perfectly represents why I’m coming back. I’m coming back because I want to ensure that next year, the BR site will develop powerful and dedicated Corps Members who will improve the academic and personal lives of our students. I’m coming back because I understand that next year’s corps of young leaders can elevate and strengthen the impact of this year’s corps. I’m also coming back because I am confident that the path of national service can fight the drop out crisis in this country.
Now for a more individualized reason…
Being a young adult who has chosen the path of national service after college, I understand how volunteerism can benefit both the receiver and giver of good will. As you give so much of your time and self in service, you gain tremendous leaderships skills (and develop a greater conscious knowledge of your own character) in return. I know that serving a second year with City Year will further transform me into a more effective leader, capable of achieving my long-term goal of becoming an effective future teacher.
Teaching children, both in academic or athletic settings, has always been my passion. In the past, I was a volunteer youth sports coach, worked summer recreation camps, and directed nursery school enrichment programs. My love for children and education flourished when I contributed to the work of Syracuse University Literacy Corps as a tutor and mentor. I served in an urban elementary school for two years, and my work there prompted me to apply to City Year. As a prospective educator, I know I am in the right place with CYBR.
Teachers are leaders, and as a growing, self-aware leader, my year as a Corps Member has shown me my strengths and inadequacies. I still need to gain and develop leadership experiences and skills. I also still need to gain and develop more vocal confidence, assertiveness, and responsibility. To achieve all of this, I need to launch myself off of the perfect platform. A second year of service with City Year, as a Team Leader, is that perfect platform.
I know if I can lead a diverse group of 17-24 year olds through a year of service, then I can certainly command my own classroom of children one day and change their lives.
If you’re interested in making a positive impact on your world and life, apply today!
Visit cityyear.org to learn more.
By: Emma Sullivan, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Merrydale Elementary School
I love spelling. It was the only academic subject that I remember excelling at in Elementary School. When I was in eighth grade, my dad and I saw a documentary about the national spelling bee in theatres, and the summer after my freshman year of college, I had an alphabet-themed spelling bee viewing party. Big spelling bee fan, right here.
I attended a very good school system with an overwhelming number of resources. Yet somehow, I never had the opportunity to participate in a spelling bee. Needless to say, I enthusiastically accepted the task of co-planning a third-through-fifth-grade spelling bee at Merrydale Elementary. The event was a big hit! Many of our focus list students participated, and we had a great parent turnout. We ended the night with a winner in each grade level, and one overall champion.
My starfish – my student who has not only improved in academics and behavior, but who has motivated me to be the very best version of myself and serves as a constant reminder of why I am giving a year to serve – is now the third grade spelling bee champion. When I saw her standing in front of me with a trophy, I realized that City Year has given her an opportunity that I never had. I am honored to have been a part of it.
Last night City Year Baton Rouge hosted our annual School House Rock gala presented by Raising Cane’s to celebrate our impact and commitment to keep Baton Rouge students in school and on track to succeed. We were privileged to honor United States Senator Mary Landrieu and Lane Grigsby, Founder and Chairman, Cajun Industries for their support of City Year and belief in our 62 AmeriCorps members proudly serving in 4 schools across East Baton Rouge Parish.
Thank you to all of our supporters and champions who joined us, including our City Year Baton Rouge Board of Advisors, our Lead Partners, East Baton Rouge Parish School System led by Dr. Bernard Taylor and Volunteer Louisiana, as well as our Team and Site Sponsors: Albemarle Foundation, The Boo Grigsby Foundation, The Capital Area United Way, Entergy Louisiana, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, New Schools for Baton Rouge, The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation.
We are also grateful for the leadership of Superintendent John White and the Louisiana Department of Education and our school partners Belaire High School, Broadmoor Middle School, Capitol Middle School and Merrydale Elementary School.
This night would not have been possible without our dedicated Gala Host Committee led by Committee Chair Richard Preis:
Beth and Rudy Aguilar
Mary and Dane Andreeff
Dana and Jim Bernhard
Cathy and Dan Bevan
Trisha and John Carmouche
Donna and John Fraiche
Deane and Scott Frazier
Ann and John Paul Funes
Shawna and Dan Gardiner
Fran and Buck Gladden
Beth and Kirby Goidel
Gwen and Todd Graves
Gwen and Leo Hamilton
Suzanne and David Hamm
Barbara and Brian Haymon
Luisa and Ben Hu
Kathryn and Luke Kissam
Jean Ann and Burton LeBlanc
Laura and Jared Loftus
Sherri and Matt McKay
Tracey and Ty McMains
Linda and Dennis Mitchell
Susan and Jim Nickel
Elizabeth and Jay Noland
Virginia and John Noland
Laura and Jay Poché
Victoria and Richard Preis
Jennifer and Sean Reilly
Winifred and Kevin Reilly, Jr.
Tricia and Chuck Sanchez
Whitney Vann and Robert Schneckenburger
Brenda and Tommy Teepell
Valerie and Stevie Toups
Councilmember Tara Wicker
And finally a big thank you to our Presenting Sponsor – Raising Cane’s and Gwen and Todd Graves. Our Champions Challenge Sponsors Dee Dee Reilly and Jennifer and Sean Reilly as well as our Top of the Class Sponsors: Andreeff Family Foundation, Suzanne and David Hamm, Barbara and Brian Haymon, Kathryn and Luke Kissam, Lamar Advertising Company, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, Reserve Telecommunications and SGS Petroleum Service Corporation.
By:Jullian Sims, Proud Corps Member serving at Belaire High School
As part of LSU’s Geaux Big Baton Rouge on Saturday, April 20th, City Year Baton Rouge teamed up with Starhill Baptist Church, for an exhilarating day of service in observance to Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). We aren’t the only ones who revere this glorious day. Celebrated in over 100 countries, GYSD is the largest service event in the world! It is the only day of service envisioned specifically for youth and children, so obviously it is one of our favorites here at CYBR.
The locus of our service was at the Eden Park/Gus Young community, which is a low-income, high-need area. Capitol Middle School, one of the four schools we serve in, is located here. To kick off this jubilant day, a few of our corps members demonstrated our notorious PT (Physical Training) routine. All the volunteers happily participates alongside us. After PT, CYBR corps members and Starhill volunteers were dropped off at their assigned sections, where they trudged through the territory, sprucing up several neighborhoods by eliminating any unsightly rubbish. Overall, our group cleaned up ten blocks. Aside from picking up trash, corps members and volunteers connected with the residents of the area, many of whom were enthralled and positively surprised by the project. It inspired some to take more responsibility for their habitat. One local told a team leader that if we sincerely could clean up all the trash out of the grass, he, in turn, would personally mow down the whole block.
In all, the event was a great success: the neighborhood’s aesthetic improved as did the resident’s pride of the area. This event was the first partnership between Starhill and City Year, but the chemistry between the two was so beautiful it’s hard to believe it’d be the last. Starhill holds its community in high regard and frequently does service-minded activities, they were very grateful and excited to have our help. This event was also great for raising our awareness and to show that we are eager to deploy our idealism wherever it is necessary.
On Saturday, April 13 our Belaire High School team along with our school and Diplomas Now partners hosted “Going for the Goal College and Career Fair.” The day allowed over 150 students and their family members to check out resources for college, jobs, and summer opportunitites, such as LSU, BRCC, Souther University, Xavier University, CSX, and the Baton Rouge Fire Department. After participating in a flag football tournament, and in between hair cuts provided by local barber Yahkini, students, family and community members were able to enjoy a great lunch provided by: Jambalaya Shoppe, Jimmy Johns, Winn Dixie, Sam’s Club, Dominos, Schlittz & Giggles, Pizza Hut, and Cupcake Couture. We would like to extend a huge thank you to our college and career representatives who came out for the day and helped make it resource fair a huge success!
By: Zac Dubois, Proud Corps Member serving at Capitol Middle School
In addition to our various roles as corps members, three to four CMs from each of our four schools are active in our Family Engagement efforts, an opportunity made possible by Capitol One’s sponsorship. Amongst the goals of our Family Engagement Program is the creation of community events which help foster a stronger relationship between City Year and the families of students with which we work.
Last Saturday, April 6, BREC and Glen Oaks Baptist church hosted a Community Outreach block party. City Year was fortunate enough to seize the opportunity to get involved and offer our support. Among the students and their families who were enjoying the inflatable slides, face painting, bounce houses, snacking on snowballs, burgers and dogs, and watching some local talent, were volunteers adorned in khaki, white and red.
Between distributing information about child wellness and safety, supervising (and sometimes joining in with) the children in their various activities, and playing softball with students and their families, City Year’s hand in engaging students and families was on point. By and large, the day was a tremendous success! This event is just one example of the strides City Year takes to engage the whole family in the whole school and the whole community.
On Tuesday, April 9 Mayor’s across the country celebrated the first “Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service,” to spotlight the impact of national service and thank those who serve. [Baton Rouge] Mayor-President Kip Holden was one of more than 800 mayors who joined the first-ever Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service – a bi-partisan effort across the country to take the time to recognize the impact of national service in our cities and thank those who serve.
Mayor Holden issued a proclamation at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 10 to honor more than 390 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members serving in more than 78 locations throughout the greater Baton Rouge area. He shared, “as Mayor, I am grateful for the dedication and sacrifice from all of you – who are helping make our great city stronger, safer, and healthier. I have seen their impact first-hand, and can’t thank them enough for their impact on this community.”
Chief Service Officer, Kia Bickham, stated, “you don’t hear their stories on the nightly news, but everyday they head out, quietly and without fanfare, to improve lives and strengthen communities. That is why I am honored to stand here today to recognize their service to this community.” Pam Olson and Vickie Schenk with the Corporation for National and Community Service, along with Janet Pace from Volunteer Louisiana accepted the proclamation. City Year Baton Rouge corps members along with representatives from Our Lady of the Lake Senior Companion Program, Teach for America, Catholic Charities and the Foster Grandparent Program, Louisiana Delta Service Corps and Boys and Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge were recognized for doing their part to strengthen our city through service and volunteering.
We are grateful to the City of Baton Rouge, Mayor-President Holden, Volunteer Louisiana, and the Corporation for National and Community Service for making our service to the students of East Baton Rouge Parish possible.