By: Will Clancy
Initially I joined City Year to inspire the leaders of our future, to advocate for the students who may slip through the cracks, and instill belief in the students who may never understand their true potential. High School is a pivotal time in one’s life. The decisions made during this time can determine so much of a person’s future, and the importance of this time cannot be over looked.
Many days of my service have gone by with no notable significance. During the first semester of service I supported a class that at times seemed uncontrollable. There was no possibility of learning in this environment; therefore the students did whatever they pleased. I spoke with my partner teacher about pulling students from class for interventions. This would provide a smaller class size for the teacher to control and allow me an opportunity to get to know some of the students. I pulled one student into my small group because he seemed content but distracted in class. I developed a strong mentoring relationship with this student from the start.
In the small group, the student expressed his opinions and began to display academic interest. Although at times he was off task, I knew I could count on him to straighten up his act with just a look from me. He began coming to me outside of class with homework, and life problems (mostly involving girls). As the semester continued, I pushed him more and together the student and I worked to move him from a lower level English course to Honors English. Mentoring him through the difficulties of being a high school boy made me realize how much he trusted me.
During parent teacher conferences, my partner teacher didn’t give the boy a report that did his hard work justice. He spent all semester working to improve but on paper things seemed unimproved – his grades were not much different. I explained to his mother that I worked hard with him all semester because I saw potential in him and wanted him to succeed. I also mentioned his hard work in his Honors English class and how together we had moved him out of the lower level class. His mother was proud of him and expressed her appreciation of my presence in her son’s life. She could see the positive changes.
Because of his hard work this student was accepted into another school during the winter break and he switched before he got a chance to tell me he was leaving. I noticed his absence immediately and called home. After calling home for a week and asking the other students where he was, I got a hold of him and convinced him to come back to the school for one night and join his friends in the City Year Red Carpet Lit and Family Night. His attendance made the stress of the first semester and planning of the event worth it. We talked about his new school and his academic progress, his girl problems, and his future plans. We chatted like old friends and at the end of the night he told me that if I hadn’t helped him he may not be in the place he is in. The significance of that moment keeps me moving forward.
Often times we don’t see the results of our hard work, but when we do, the rewards seem endless. This experience is a boost for me to keep encouraging and advocating for my students. Our students look up to us and the influence we have on them will last a lifetime.