City Year: Students First, Collaboration Always

| Michael Venegas, Marketing and Communications Manager (City Year Chicago Alum, 2006-2007)

In this edition of our ongoing series with City Year, I’d like to spotlight two important issues. First, this blog is also the story of collaboration between City Year and Math+ to better serve the students at the Dvorak School of Excellence, in Chicago’s North Lawndale community, and demonstrates the “better together” approach to tutoring. Secondly, what we are really learning about is how various teaching styles and approaches can positively impact outcomes for the students. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ world—each student has a different learning style and guess what? Each mentor/tutor has a different teaching style—it’s all a matter of putting the pieces together. Congratulations to the City Year and Math+ leaders at Dvorak for their teamwork and dedication. ~Shelley Stern Grach

City Year: Students First, Collaboration Always

Since 2001, The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) has been operating in certain Chicago Public Schools, and they offer supplemental programs to assist students in their studies. This year marks the first year that they’ve operated the Dvorak School of Excellence, in Chicago’s North Lawndale community.

One of the AUSL programs offered at Dvorak, Math+, provides math tutoring to students in grades 3-5 in concepts, skills, and reasoning. The structure of this program is fairly similar to City Year’s; both operate in a 10-month cycle (although certain City Year sites have grown to 11 months), both target students that need the most help, and both serve as tutors, supporting the teachers they work with.

The Dvorak School of Excellence offers both Math+ and City Year as resources to their students, and because both of these resources serve as tutors, they have naturally formed relationships with one another, as well as the teachers that they support. But it just so happens that three Math+ tutors served with City Year Chicago just last year!

Ramsey Derrick and Vanessa (1)

Derrick, Vanessa, and Daisy each served in Chicago last year – Vanessa and Derrick served as corps members, while Daisy served as a Team Leader. With this being their first year with Math+, and the first year that Dvorak has offered the program, they are each adjusting to significant changes, and they credit their time in City Year with preparing them for working with students, teachers, and administration. They have each found ways to further hone the skills they developed last year, while also taking the time to help the current City Year members they work alongside.

As Veronica, Daisy, and Derrick are each Math tutors, they mostly interact with their City Year Math counterparts, Nick and Ramsey, as they work with the same teachers, and occasionally the same students.

Nick pointed out that, with the help of his relationship with the Math+ tutors, he found it easier to define the role that he’s been trained for in assisting his partner-teacher, as well as communicating the goals that he has for working with students. The Math+ tutors have helped in translating the City Year work style and the near-peer relationships members develop with students in terms that encompass the expectations of AUSL programming.

Ramsey has also benefitted from his relationship with the Math+ tutors, and he explained that it’s their way of understanding how City Year prepares its members to receive constructive feedback that has allowed him to succeed. Derrick, Daisy, and Vanessa are each able to draw from their own experiences as corps members to assist Ramsey during his. Through their shared experience, Ramsey is able to gain insight on best practices to help him work with the same types of students the Math+ tutors were working with last year. Ramsey, with the help of these three, has been able to stand on the shoulder of giants this year.

Math+ and City Year

And whether or not they know it, the City Year team has also helped the Math+ tutors learn more about themselves as they continue to develop their skills and passions for working with youth. They explained that, by being able to observe this team grow into a cohesive force, they’ve been able to dig a little deeper into their own experience, into why they chose to join Math+ and City Year before it – for the students.

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