Welcome 2013-2014 corps!
My name is Cyndi Lillibridge, I’m 24 years old from Albany, New Hampshire, and last year I served as a corps member on the Henry Wilson Elementary School Team Co-Sponsored by Heinemann. I’m writing this letter to you to offer some perspective and tips I picked up during my corps year. This past year (2012-2013) was one exciting thrill of a ride; but every hurtle was a lesson learned, and well worth it. Over the course of my service year, the kids that I worked with were the main focus of everything I did. I loved the time that was spent within my classroom and I honestly could have used more of it. In the morning we welcomed the students with open arms and big smiles while checking their homework; the students will love seeing your face first thing. Why? Because the kids will look up to you and go to you for EVERYTHING. Do not be alarmed when you hear a totally outrageous question from one of these students, it happens.. I’ll never forget when I received a Christmas card and inside a line read “thank you for being the most honest person I’ve ever met,” and this was from a third grader. These kids need someone to be honest to them and to hear them out regardless of the situation.
During this year the biggest thing you have to remember is to ask for help and support, that is one thing I lacked because I was too hard headed. The biggest support that you can find, beside your team, is your teacher. Last year I told my teacher the ins and outs of my year so she understood what I was going through and could help me as much as I helped her. Just like with your kids as long as you’re real and honest you can definitely make a good, positive, and strong connection. Ask them for any advice they may have, they are excellent at making you feel like you are changing these kids worlds for the better. Everyday.
Some other information that I experienced personally and want to leave you with is 1. to intently watch these kids grow. My wonderful teacher told me the day before the first day of school, that the one thing I will never forget is how much the students will grow in just one year; and boy was my mind blown. 2. Remember the first day of school like it is the first day, everyday. I still remember the first student I met in my class and they are engraved into my mind3. Not only are you teaching these kids, but you are learning and growing from them as well. 4. Be tough in the beginning, then soft at the end. This. Is. Important! 5. Tell them that you care and are happy to see them, everyday. This will help students come to school on time, and respect you. ~And one more small tip: For the healthy snacks, I usually walked around with the bucket and promoted the snack of the day that was provided by the school; I find that if you are giving it good reviews they are most likely to eat it!
Right now I am serving a second year of service with AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program (AVAP) here in Manchester and we are still talking about SELF CARE. Find anything and everything outside of City Year and work that will make you happy and let yourself indulge in it. I personally love taking short weekend adventures throughout NH; it may be a small state but it has a lot to offer if you look for it! I have spent my full 25 years living here and it still surprises me every single day. Make the most of this year, because you only get one first corps year! Thank you for devoting your life to this organization and these kids, and good luck!
Cheers to you for giving a year, and changing the world.