AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Liam McCarthy

At Citizen Schools, no role is more essential to the success of our students than that of the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow. Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellows create extraordinary enrichment and academic support experiences for the students we serve the nation. On a daily basis, Fellows deepen connections between schools and parents, help to develop social-emotional skills through mentoring and coaching students, and facilitate hands-on learning opportunities through our apprenticeships

Liam 1

I'm Liam! I was born and raised in San Francisco and graduated in May 2018 from Boston College with a degree in English and Secondary Education. I am a first year Teaching Fellow at McKinley Institute of Technology in Redwood City. As you could probably guess from education background, I love reading and teaching English, but outside of those things, I also love playing and listening to music!

Why did you decide to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow?

I became a Teaching Fellow because I wanted to be a part of a novel approach to tackling the achievement gap. I was particularly interested in the community and career aspect of the Citizen Schools model. I thought back to when I was a middle schooler and I can honestly say that I spent zero time thinking about a career (unless pretending you're a rockstar when you lip sync to songs in the mirror counts as thinking about a career). I really appreciate being a part of a program that gives students the ability to explore career skills and meet professionals in the area. These opportunities are not easy to come by as an eleven or twelve year old, so to see kids think about their futures is incredibly encouraging.

What has been one of the most transformative moments of your service?

Our first WOW! was so inspiring. The students remembered so much information when talking to parents about their apprenticeships! I was impressed by how easily students talked about the things they learned in their apprenticeships and the pride they took in their accomplishments. Most notably, in our Community Warriors apprenticeship, students applied persuasive writing and presentation techniques to organize a food drive and convince a local tech company to donate to a homeless shelter. While the students got a sense of how they can impact their community and make a difference for the better, I got a sense of the impact that I can have too by guiding students towards their goals.

What is one piece of advice you wish you’d gotten before your service year?

Take care of yourself! We spent a lot of time beforehand talking about self-care, but it didn't hit me until I actually started just how much of this work can seep into your personal time. If you don't pick up a hobby or explicitly put aside time to not think about work, you could easily find yourself putting stuff together for the classroom late at night or all weekend. It's important to take care of yourself because it's nearly impossible to help others if you aren't feeling your best. I also could have probably brushed up on my Spanish!

I feel the most inspired by ________?

I feel most inspired by Charles Skidmore at our regional office. While technically, he is a curriculum developer at the regional office, he has filled in the gaps on our campus. He's served as a Citizen Teacher and a Teaching Fellow most days of the week. He goes above and beyond the call of duty to make sure our program runs smoothly. His interactions with students are remarkably positive and his commitment to our vision motivates me every day.


If you could summarize your year of service in one word, which one would it be? Why?

Dynamic! Picking one word that captured all the different elements and feelings that come with this work was nearly impossible, but I think the word dynamic speaks to this variety in experience. I think the word dynamic also speaks to the amount of change and growth that Teaching Fellows see and experience. I've seen a lot of change not just in my students and our procedures, but also in myself.

After my service year I hope to ____?

I hope to study public policy when I finish my year of service. I want to continue working towards education reform and justice in society, but I want to work from the top-down by influencing legislation.