KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Training is back in session for City Year's Americorps members.
After a year of working with students and teachers virtually, the mentors and tutors are excited to re-engage students in person for the upcoming year.
"The pandemic has impacted a lot and education has not been exempt, but we as a community always have to put our best foot forward," City Year Executive Director, Jeffrey Shafer said. "And that was before the pandemic and it's during it. And we're not going to give up on our kids and we want to make sure they have the support they need."
For Becca Flores, her first year as a City Year Americorps member was last year, starting her training virtually. Now, she's able to learn in person with her team.
"It's really good to be able to bounce off ideas," Flores said. "In a virtual space, it sometimes can get a little bit more difficult to be able to do that right away, so I think that's the biggest difference is being all together."
The month-long training focuses on re-engagement and meeting the needs of students after a year of adapting to several changes.
"What we'd like to focus on is making sure our kids stay engaged, so if there's any issues with that, we want to reengage them with the academic and the social, emotional learning process," Shafer said.
Members learn about youth development and how to create a positive school climate.
"They also have identity workshops," Shafer said. "And how they need to show up in these spaces with a lens of promoting diversity, belonging, inclusion and equity."
Throughout the course of the identity workshop, members took time to reflect on their own identities.
"In the same way that we have a holistic approach with mentoring and tutoring with our students, we have a holistic approach with training our Americorps members," Shafer said. "So for them to understand the communities they serve and understand their identities and how they show up is mission-critical."
And before walking into a classroom, members go in-depth about the importance of educational equity.
"We understand that we can't talk about educational equity without talking about racial justice," Shafer said. "So understanding that concept and how it impacts the classroom is important for any mentor or tutor before they step into that school."
Flores, who's now a team leader, is taking what she learned last year and continuing to apply it this year.
"It was a bunch of new things: pronouns," Flores said. "I've never heard about pronouns before and it was something that I had to get accustomed to but I learned how important that was."
She said her training and the impact her students had on her allowed her to share more about her experiences and lessons with her own family.
"I think about my kids, and what they taught me personally and how much they impacted me in my life," Flores said. "And what I'm now able to teach my family what we never got to learn."
The organization's goal is to have 66 Americorps members ready to serve for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.
City Year has slots open right now to meet that goal.
To join the team, there is certain criteria:
- Must be between 18 and 25 years old
- Be able to mentor, tutor full time for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year
- Have earned a high school diploma or a GED by July 1st, 2021
- Be a U.S. Citizen or a legal permanent legal resident
- Have served no more than three terms as an active Americorps member
To learn more about City Year Kansas City and/or apply, visit the organization's website.