Matt Gordon, Team Leader, Deloitte Team Serving at Cody High School
City Year gives corps members the unique experience of living vicariously through the students we serve. I believe that it is a struggle to even begin to grasp the difficulty of the inner-city until you can feel it. So, in taking a year of my time to serve the city and try to positively affect the students of Cody High School, what have I learned? I have learned that making any change takes significant time and effort. Students need to know that there is someone that has already found some type of success that believes in them and is willing to help them find a path towards a safer, smarter future. Seeing progress is a long, long fight, and that is where role models come in. I believe that City Year does a great job of creating role models in their corps members by pushing us to uphold the ideals of hard work, teamwork, and leadership when donning the CY uniform. It then falls upon the corps members to step up and help lead their students.
It is always easy to point out a lack of motivation or desire in students who fail to make it through the obstacle course that is a failing public school system. Why don’t the students work harder or study more? Why can’t they sit quietly and listen to a lesson rather than running in and out of the classroom yelling profanities? While some of these questions may be valid and can be undeniably infuriating on a daily basis, how often is one of the main causes for difficulty, a lack of strong role models, properly addressed? I ask myself–could I have pushed myself to overcome a lack of food, shelter, or safety on a daily basis and bring myself to school if I didn’t have strong, consistent role models pulling me toward the goal of graduation?
I believe that success comes from repetition. You cannot simply read a book that details how to escape from poverty and then change your life. To make any significant change, one must devote hours, days, or even years towards committing to a different future. This is why being a positive role model is so important. A positive role model demonstrates how (leading by example) to dedicate oneself to hard work on a daily basis and then provides support every at every step along the way. It is my hope that through City Year I have both helped students at Cody learn how to live better and one day become positive role models themselves, and that I have shaped my own abilities and perceptions so that I may continue living the ideals I learned at City Year through the rest of my life.