By Felicia Truman, corps member serving at Gossler Park Elementary School
“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants,” Issac Newton.
Every morning when I walk into one of my Gossler Park elementary school classrooms I am greeted with a smile. My teachers are usually making finishing touches on their morning messages, making some copies by the office or discussing plans with other teachers while I hang my red jacket in the closet. Even though they are busy they still take the time to greet me and ask me how my night was. I usually give them the same answer: “Oh it was great! I was up late finishing some session plans.” And then they smile knowingly, because they were too.
City Year corps members devote 10 months of service to transform our nation by helping to decrease the dropout rate. Though taking a year out of your life to make a difference in the lives of children can be considered admirable, we are not the only people who deserve recognition. The teachers in our schools devote much of their lives to reaching students and helping them succeed in a world where the odds are against them. Because we are standing on the shoulders of giants, it is important to develop relationships with these individuals because it is only through their partnership that we can truly make a difference.
“Relationships are the building blocks of success. They are the foundation of an effective learning environment,” said Desiree Nwankpa, a corps member at Parker-Varney Elementary School.
I have wanted to pursue a career in education myself, and having the opportunity to watch my teachers and build relationships with them has prepared me to become a better educator. As a corps member I definitely want to make a difference and change lives, but I know I can’t do it alone. Having dedicated teachers in my classrooms who have not only studied education but have years of experience has improved my chances of making a difference. Observing the ways they interact with students, how they break down concepts and create lesson plans are lessons I will take with me to my own teaching career.
Like me, Nicole Mayotte, a corps member at Beech Street Elementary has formed a positive relationship with her partner teacher: “I feel incredibly fortunate about my own teacher relationship. My partner teacher is an extraordinary teacher to observe. She shows a tremendous amount of dedication to her students and their individual needs. As an aspiring teacher myself, she is a remarkable person to learn from. She and I are constantly communicating about individual student struggles and successes. It is with her dedication, support and communication that I feel set up to succeed in my 4th grade classroom.”
I think the most impactful part about working with my teachers is seeing the passion each one of them holds, the determination they have to make the world better and their willingness to welcome corps members into their classrooms. As a corps member it is humbling to realize that they not only believe in City Year’s mission but also that they believe in me. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to serve with my teachers because I believe that together we can make a difference.