“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi
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 under served students across our 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.
This week, AmeriCorps Week, we celebrate all Teaching Fellows, past and present, for their service and dedication in bringing thousand of students life enriching experiences that will forever impact their lives. This month's TF Spotlight features Dana-kae Walsh, a second year Teaching Fellow at Bronx Writing Academy, in representation of all of the Teaching Fellows across our network.
Why did you decide to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow?
Giving back to my community has been a major part of who I am and working with students has always given me joy. As an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow, I am given the chance to not only do a service for others, but also work with inner city youth. In my day-to-day, I get the opportunity to interact and build positive relationships with my students. I get to build a connection/bond by sharing my knowledge and experiences with them. In return, I learn about who they are and how I can support them in the most effective manner. I decided to serve because I am able to make a difference. I first heard about AmeriCorps when I was completing my senior year of college and I have always been attracted to the idea of helping others, especially students who are living out a similar experience as I did. I wasn’t exactly 100% sure of what I wanted to do career-wise, even as a college senior. However, I always knew that I wanted to work in education and even more closely with students. AmeriCorps presented the opportunity and its sole purpose is to making a difference and I gravitated to that purpose. What has been one of the most transformative moments of your service?
One of the most transformative moment was when I was provided the opportunity to start a girls club at the Bronx Writing Academy, which gives an outlet or safe space for my students to learn more about themselves and gain resources to improve their leadership, interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills. Before launching the club, I wrote a proposal outlining my mission, the purpose, a typical meeting agenda, and the outcome(s) or results of having this club. Once the club launched, I had a total of 15 girls, who came with different personalities and goals they wanted to accomplish. My girls were extremely enthusiastic and excited to have a safe space where they could work as a team to discuss the challenges they face in a manner where they are unable to do so on a daily basis. This made me even more passionate and dedicated to making sure that their goals are being accomplished. Today, the club is still up and running. More girls have joined and continue to be enthusiastic about being apart of a team. How has service changed you and your perspective of the world?
I believe that I have improved on my own leadership capabilities and self-confidence. Serving with Americorps has motivated me to step outside of my comfort zone and to work with others on several projects that have strengthen my professional and personal skills. AmeriCorps has opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunities. I’ve always believed in Ghandi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Serving as an AmeriCorps member gave me the opportunity to meet others who are working towards the same goals. I now know that it is imperative to be more empathetic with others and their experiences. Also, I have more of an open mind to others, how they live and maneuver their day-to-day.