By Emmanuel Fairley '13, '14 and Tyler Green, AmeriCorps member serving on the Trustey Family team with Grew Elementary School
On February 26, City Year Boston welcomed 400 leaders from the Greater Boston legal services industry to our Legal Community Breakfast. Below are the remarks made by our featured speakers: Emmanuel Fairley, who served as a City Year AmeriCorps member from 2012-2014 and is now a teacher with Boston Public Schools, and Tyler Green, the AmeriCorps member who now serves in Emmanuel's classroom. Together, they brought listeners insight into their paths to service, what they’ve learned about education, and who the amazing students are in their classroom.
Emmanuel Fairley (EF): I served for two years with City Year Orlando and was a member of the Boston Teachers Residency, an accelerated graduate program that provides aspiring teachers with a full-time residency in Boston Public Schools; two impactful experiences that led me to the Grew Elementary School.
It was during my two years of service with City Year that I really began to make sense of a City Year founding story, Ubuntu. Loosely translated it means: “I am a person through other people, my humanity is tied to yours.” As a young adult working with other young adults and children, everyday I had the opportunity to make real Ubuntu. And what did I learn? It’s hard. It’s hard to love other people when you’re having a rough day, let alone when they’re having a rough day.
It’s on those challenging days that I remember my training from City Year, and when I’m especially thankful for Mr. Tyler! His consistent presence and positive attitude help so much to keep students focused on their learning. He balance to our classroom, whether that’s by sitting next to the disengaged student or pulling a small group to work more closely with them. The entire City Year team serving at the Grew works tirelessly everyday to help teachers and students construct and cultivate communities of learners at our school. And that’s Ubuntu.
Tyler Green (TG): I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and I am beyond proud to call Portland home. I found my path to giving back when I found City Year, an organization that combines education and service. I knew it was the right fit for me after listening to stories from two of my oldest friends who both served as corps members here in Boston.
[My school] the Grew, sets and holds us all to high expectations. Those high expectations are met with a high amount of support, as one of our school’s values is “rigorous learning and teaching.” When Mr. Fairley and I tell our students that they are some of the best, if not the very best, third graders in Boston, we believe it, because they show it to us every day with their hard work!
Mr. Tyler brings balance to our classroom, whether that’s by sitting next to the disengaged student or pulling a small group to work more closely with them. The entire City Year team serving at the Grew works tirelessly everyday to help teachers and students construct and cultivate communities of learners at our school.
EF: Besides a genuine passion to make sense of the world, I am amazed daily by [our students’] ability to facilitate discussions amongst themselves. Walk into my classroom on any given day and you will see students questioning the thinking of their peers. You will hear students constructing viable arguments about their mathematical reasoning or about a piece of evidence they’ve used to answer a text-dependent question. You will see focused young people determined to prepare themselves for the world they’re inheriting.
I learned with City Year that on the days when the work that is educating young people gets hard, I have to love even harder. [It means] that I have to be a little more patient…. Loving my students on these days means I take a little extra time to explain the learning target to ensure their success. It means I, even more than usual, articulate the expectations of an assigned task and celebrate those students who rise to the challenge.
I became a teacher to foster the type of learning environment I just mentioned. Because while I do love people and I do consider myself a lifelong learner, my becoming a teacher really emanated from the understanding that teaching is not simply about math, reading, writing, art, music, dance or passing a test. Teaching is about preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives. Teaching is nation-building. And as profound as that sounds, it starts with developing and investing in the one thing that makes this nation so strong: its people; more specifically, its young people.
TG: It’s our relationships with students, teachers, and families that keep us coming back [every day]. I’ve learned so much from Mr. Fairley and am thankful for his approach to collaboration, his insight on lesson planning, and the assignments he gives me to focus in on specific students and their skills. My year of service will be finished in June. Moving forward, I’m looking into grad school to study within the realm of education; teaching has always been on my mind, and learning from my students has motivated me to ensure that all students have access to an excellent education.
EF: As a classroom teacher to some of the most amazing people this nation and the world have yet to meet, I have the opportunity to see our future every day, and I would encourage you to invest as much as you can to get to know our students, to get to know our schools, to learn how you can support our journey, and to work together to continue developing this nation.
Teaching is about preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives. Teaching is nation-building. And as profound as that sounds, it starts with developing and investing in the one thing that makes this nation so strong: its people; more specifically, its young people.