This guest blog post is written by Anna Caron, a confirmed 2013-2014 Corps Member. Recently, she had the opportunity to visit two of the six elementary schools we serve in. City Year New Hampshire is excited to share her experience with all of our readers. Enjoy!
Confirmed 2013-2014 Corps Member City Year New Hampshire
For my senior spring break, I bopped around the exotic land of southern NH to visit my sister in Portsmouth, my dad in Nashua, and my maternal grandparents in Manchester. Although it’s always an exhilarating time with my Nan and Gramps, I thought it might be a good idea to pull myself away from the Scrabble battles and walnut date cookies to spend a day shadowing the City Year NH corps and get a feel for what this coming school year is going to be like.
So I called Ted, Senior Director of Operations, to see if we could make this happen. Within 24 hours, he set me up with Lila, a Program Manager, to help facilitate my visit to Gossler Park in the morning and Parker-Varney in the afternoon, two elementary schools on the West Side of Manchester. The day before my visit, I was on Elm Street getting lunch with my dad (we went to Republic Cafe and Bistro, a farm-to-table gem which is absolutely worth the splurge) and stopped by the City Year office to review my visit with Ted in person. I was greeted with welcoming smiles and had the pleasure of acquainting myself with a few more City Year staff members, including Allie, Development Manager and alum from my alma mater, Colby College.
I woke up Thursday morning before sunrise to make a lunch, drink tea with my Nan, and prep myself for the day. I had a little flutter in my tummy as I drove over the Merrimack River and through the winding streets on the West Side, but the nerves transformed into excitement while Lila and I walked through the energy-filled halls of Gossler Park and I spotted the first red vest. Throughout the morning, I spent time individually with several corps members: I met many of Amanda’s fifth graders during morning greeting as I welcomed kids to school with Josh, watched Lila observe Jim facilitate a reading intervention with two fourth graders and picked Roald Dahl books with Amanda’s focus list group.
Following my morning, I travelled through more winding streets over to Parker-Varney where I got to experience the more collaborative aspect of the day. First, I worked with Terri and her three lunch buddies on a 50 Acts of Greatness plan and then swung over to Grace’s classroom where she was helping students with their literary responses. During specials, the corps members in third grade classrooms, Grace, Abby, and Neal, took me to their City Year space tucked away behind the curtain on the stage, decorated with a splattering of tiny chairs, matching jackets, backpacks and communal bags of candy, paperwork, and toys. We munched on mini Cadbury eggs and jelly beans while discussing plans for Starfish Corps which is the after school program run by the City Year team.
Before I knew it, it was time for student dismissal and I joined the rest of the team for an hour of Homework Club which transitioned into Starfish Corps activities including a few rounds of the game Splat and an ad hoc game of Endangered Species tag.
Once the team had said the final “see you tomorrow!” to the last few kids being picked up, we cleaned up the spaces we had used and then convened for debriefing, simply a time to go over Andy’s housekeeping things and to talk and laugh about the day. The corps members clearly had much better endurance for the 10-hour day because as I leaned back in my child-size chair soaking up the stories and compliments being shared, the team’s energy never seemed to slide, carrying palpable enthusiasm and passion to the moment we said our goodbyes in the parking lot.
I left the Parker Varney campus with a happy warmth in my heart, knowing I had not only just spent 10 hours with so many amazing people, but knowing that next year is going to be — albeit challenging — awesome.