Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Erica Nork, Tufts grad from 2020 who is currently serving as an AmeriCorps member at City Year Boston. When it came time to think about what was next after Tufts, Erica first thought of her ideal environment: “I really want[ed] a very collaborative experience, something where I’m really well supported, in some sort of community and in education…City Year really fit the bill.” It also gave Erica a chance to deepen her connection to the greater Boston community after four years at Tufts: “I really wanted to keep building on my knowledge of the area, my connections…and really keep digging my roots in this area.”
When asked about her experience, Erica spoke passionately about her team at Tech Boston Academy, where she serves in a 9th grade ELA classroom. “Being in a team is wonderful. There’s twelve of us, and I have one team member who [works with] all the same students [as me.] It’s helpful to have someone to talk with about all 80 students, how things are going across their different subjects and really get a fuller picture of our students.”
Outside of working directly with students on ELA, Erica has a lot of other opportunities to collaborate with her teammates. As a member of the coursework working group, Erica and her group “just created a survey for students to write about how City Year [members] are doing in their class, what are we doing that is helpful. Students are thinking critically about how we’re operating in their classroom.” This group will take students’ feedback to make improvements with all their teammates. Also, every few weeks during team time, Erica and her fellow AmeriCorps members break into groups for “social justice conversations, where people lead a presentation about a topic related to social justice for an hour.” These spaces are opportunities to dive deeper into the systemic inequities existing in our communities – critical for developing an asset-based approach to service.
Her service with City Year is also helping Erica prepare for what’s next – starting with the support she receives from her leaders. Speaking of her Impact Manager Jamie, Erica shared “Jamie is a rock…and really makes sure that everyone is on the same page.” She also spoke about City Year’s “very intentional coaching session[s] where you go in with a goal and talk about how you could approach it together.” This has been so useful as Erica plans to pursue a career in teaching after her service with City Year. But not all City Year AmeriCorps members go into education, and Erica spoke to the transferrable skills that all members develop during their time. “Being really flexible, teamwork, taking initiative – these are applicable across so many fields.” And for Tufts students in particular, who are so “interested in social systems and how they work,” seeing a nonprofit and public schools up close is a great way to build on those campus and classroom conversations.
We finished our conversation reflecting on advice for students. “Think of what kind of environment you want to be in as much as what you want to be doing on a day to day basis,” Erica shared. “It’s all about the people too – the people who are around you are the people who really make or break an experience. And City Year has a lot of good people.”
To learn more about serving as an AmeriCorps member with City Year, contact Paul Riley, Recruiter, at email@example.com or (617) 372-2935. For more stories of City Year’s service at TechBoston Academy, check out their Instagram.