As I walk through the halls of Gossler Park Elementary School I envision service, education, after-school activities, and more. All of the aspects of being a City Year Corps Member spiral through my head along with the creativity and endless ideas of how to make all of those possibilities come alive. Our corps of 52 AmeriCorps members, serving at 6 elementary schools in Manchester, have been developing the skills and implementing hard work for almost three months now. Our dedication to enrich students’ lives, and improve their attendance, behavior and course performance in math and literacy is a team effort.
The leadership compass, for instance, is a tool that City Year utilizes to highlight the different leadership styles that a person may exhibit and highlight participant’s strongest and weakest leadership styles. My compass direction is East, a style of leadership that allows my thoughts to flow constantly. My mind never stops steady streams of ideas from flowing. From projects to plans, they seem to grow and expand and I have come to learn since serving with City Year that getting them down onto paper is the difficult part. I can easily be consumed in so many bigger pictures that I never stop to take the time to rationally think of the best and more effective ways to execute my plans. This is both a strength and a challenge that I’m learning to lead and work on.
The great thing about being on a team is that I get the opportunity to work with people with different leadership styles that compliment my own. For example, Jim Irby is a corps member on my team who has helped me develop my leadership and more so, inspired me with his life story.
Graduating with a degree in middle-eastern studies from William and Mary, Jim began to learn and appreciate the close-knit community he was so accustomed to there. Before closing his journey at William and Mary he had many other amazing opportunities such as serving at an orphanage in Tanzania, building homes in Mexico, and working at homeless shelters and kitchens more locally.
Moving to New Hampshire and the prospect of beginning yet another life journey challenged Jim to be a leader through education. Serving in Mrs. Miller’s fourth grade class allows him the opportunity to broaden his horizon and expand his vision of thinking through children. Through reading and math focus groups, he works with a few kids to create better learning habits for all of them. In the words of Jim Irby:
“I serve because I believe that it is what gives our life meaning. I think the best thing we can do with our limited time is to pursue happiness–holding the happiness of others as equally important to our own. I believe that education opens up so many more paths to happiness and to fulfillment and I hope to help kids find those opportunities this year. Service is my attempt to make my life a “campfire” and to leave this world better than I found it.”
Through Jim’s story I am not only inspired by all the work he has done and planned, but motivated to learn to be a new kind of leader. Jim can teach me to lead in a way that I have never done before and this can only lead us both to becoming more successful. Showing people what leaders they are capable of becoming while positively influencing the lives of students is what City Year is all about. As I continue to work on my leadership this year, I will look to Jim for inspiration and fresh perspective in making a difference in the world.