written by Bryan Spooner, corps member at Bakersville Elementary School
The City Year team pulls into the lot of Bakersville Elementary School. Together with our service leaders, Shea and Elizabeth, we “corps four members” wave good morning to teachers on the way up the stairs to the 3rd-5th grade wing. Arriving on the third floor, we hardly utter a solitary syllable before 5th grade teacher, Mr. Sims, has wished us a great day with his unbreakable spirit. From here we disperse to settle in to our classrooms and go about our morning duties.
There are two attendance initiatives special to Bakersville Elementary school that we believe helps bridge the gap for those students who are most at risk of low average daily attendance and, therefore, may be struggling in other areas of achievement. Our morning duties include leading a walking school bus, and ensuring safe arrival by overseeing car drop-offs.
Now in its third year at Bakersville, the walking school bus is one of our team’s most effective attendance initiatives and ensures every student has an opportunity to arrive to school on time. Bakersville’s walking school bus provides students a healthy and safe way to get to and from school when their parents are unable to drive or walk with them. This walking bus requires two City Year members to pick up each student at their homes and gives us members the opportunity to talk with these students and help them start their school day off in a positive way.
Car patrol at Bakersville is another way to ensure students arrive safely to school. We City Year members assist parents and guardians who are dropping off and picking up their students via car by keeping the parking lot flow as efficient and safe for the students as possible. To do this we identify drop-off/pick-up lanes by putting out cones and directing traffic in the morning and afternoon.
The work we do through these initiatives at Bakersville may not feel earth-shattering, but each time one of our team successfully accompanies a student to school when that student may not have gone for many reasons, we are making a difference. It starts with getting students to school on time, and continues by helping them stay on track. City Year members do this by supporting students in math, English language arts, and socio-emotional learning. Not one student is like another- and that diversity is what makes the students at Bakersville so interesting to work with. Varying levels of need may provide an extra challenge, but in turn it allows us to learn from the students, and our learning allows us to understand more of their struggles. We teach them and learn from them as not only City Year members, but also as human beings.
This is exactly the reason I joined City Year in the first place. I like to see people succeed, and this is why I believe the last line of City Year’s pledge is so important. If we are going to “build a stronger community, nation, and world for all of us,” it must start with education in the classroom.
While 5th grade was not my first preference, I’ve come to realize this indeed is the best possible place for me. This is, in part, due to my excellent partner teacher Ms. Eagan, who gives me both unparalleled flexibility and creativity in the classroom. Whether it is my own approach to giving full-class support or an energizer to transition from one activity to the next, there is never a dull moment in our classroom. It’s truly the students’ and my partner teacher’s excellent relationship that keep me motivated to make my hour commute every day something I do with a wide smile on my face.
My mission starts here at Bakersville Elementary, and I do not intend to have it end here. Whether it is the best day of the year for the students or the worst, these students are always Bakersville proud, and I am grateful to be able to do my part.
To learn more about what City Year New Hampshire does to support attendance and other focus areas, click here.