TF Spotlight: Marisely Hernandez

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 underserved 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.

Marisely is a Teaching Fellow at Global Technology Preparatory in New York, New York.

Why did you decide to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow?

Having attended NYC public schools throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I was able to experience a wide variety of schools across different communities within the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. My middle school years were some of my toughest years. At the time, there were many changes going on within my personal life that negatively affected my behavior toward my grades and schoolwork. In part, I owe my decision to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow to my middle school guidance counselor who continuously pushed me to grow. Upon fulfilling my degree in forensic psychology, I had an overwhelming urge to work with middle school youth within NYC’s public schools. Becoming an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow has provided me with the opportunity to touch lives, engage, serve, lead, and above all, give back.

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

One of the most transformative moments of my service was when I ran a Blast to the Future project with some of my students last year. They were required to write about where they saw each other in 10 years – similar to the essay I had to write in the 6th grade. However, since the students had access to computers they were able to research colleges, pick a potential major, and look into any clubs/sports they would be a part of. One of my students chose MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with a major in Civil Engineering. I do not know whether this student will ever remember his project, but hearing him speak about his aspirations taught me the importance of listening and truly getting to know our students. I learned that oftentimes students do not talk about their aspirations because, perhaps, much of the focus is on their negative behavior or lack of focus. I learned the importance of separating negative behavior from the student as a person – a being with dreams, hopes and plans for the future.

How has service changed you and your perspective of the world?

Service has changed me and my perspective of the world in the sense that I have gained an incredible wealth making the decision to finish college and go to grad school also require dedication and sacrifice, however, I think service requires us to look past ourselves in order to meet the needs of our students and give them the tools they need to succeed. This is not to say that we leave who we are at the door, but that there are times we must give up the mic in order for our students to speak, explore, and later expand on the tools we give them. As a service member and educator, I have learned that I must be fully present for our students despite whatever may be going on in my personal life, this requires a great deal of daily sacrifice and overall dedication to my students.