|Career Partner Spotlight: Andrew Christian and Capital Teaching Residency|
Andrew Christian '09, '10 • Capital Teaching Residency
Senior year of college, I was one of those students who cringed every time someone asked what I was going to do next year. I was completely lost. During my time at Wake Forest, I became involved with Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity. It was something I enjoyed, and it brought me together with a lot of like-minded people with whom I enjoyed spending time. One day, I was wondering around a Gap fair hosted by our university, and there was this City Year booth. I had never heard of the organization, but when I talked to the recruiter, it sounded like a great experience to continue my service and become a part of AmeriCorps. I went home, applied, got accepted, and never looked back. It allowed me to surround myself with amazing people, to build life-long relationships, and to experience the uncomfortable reality that so many students live in in America. I served a second year because I felt a connection with my work and a purpose that I had never felt before.
During my second year of service, I lost my mother, who was my best friend and mentor. It was the most difficult challenge I have ever faced in my life. When I look back, it was the relationships I built in City Year that got me through it. Every day I was gone, my team was texting and calling to check on me and offer words of encouragement. My students were sending messages of encouragement through my team. During that time, City Year wasn’t a job or a year of service, it was a family and a pillar of strength.
I value the relationships I built with my students and my team. I value the lessons I learned from City Year, and the challenges that made me a better person, a person more aware of the world around me. I value Ubuntu, exploring my connectedness with others through my service and self-understanding.
My yellow jacket represents a commitment I made to myself and to my students. It means pushing through the challenges of the neighborhoods and schools we worked in. It means seeing Sadie find her self-confidence as a sixth grader and emerge with straight A’s at the end of the year. It means seeing Jaqueline pass her high school exit exam so she can graduate on time. It means seeing Walter apologize to a teacher for his behavior and accepting responsibility for his own actions. My yellow jacket represents growth, professionally and emotionally.
If you asked me before City Year, I never would have thought I would end up teaching. My experience with City Year was one I can never walk away from. I fell in love with my students, my team, and education. During my time at City Year, I was fortunate enough to meet some amazing teachers who showed me the meaning of inspiring students. I met amazing staff members who displayed level-five-leadership, showing me the power and influence that one passionate person can have on another. I met amazing corps members, people who challenged me every day to be my best self, and to help them be their best selves. I knew that the next chapter of my life had to offer me the same type of people. It had to be teaching.
I am currently a resident with the Capital Teaching Residency in Washington, D.C. I am co-teaching chemistry, alongside a mentor teacher, at a public charter school. Once I complete my three years of teaching with the CTR program, I either plan to stay in the classroom and teach for a few more years, or possibly explore other options in the education sector. I would eventually like to pursue my MPA and begin working on the policy side of education, or take my experience to other education-focused non-profits.
My advice to a corps member starting service, take a lot of pictures, even if you don’t think it’s something worth taking a picture of. I miss the time I spent with my team, the long hours once the students left, and the sweat and tears put into whole school events and service days. Also, don’t be afraid to put in the long hours (because you’re going to anyway), bond with your teammates and leadership, and learn from your students. You might not remember all of them, but they will remember you.
PITW #127 (bing!) Embrace Change. During my second year of service, my co-team leader (shout out to Ariel Howard) and I chose this PITW to lead our IJ team with. Change is a vital part of life and a vital part of service. It allows us to grow as individuals, to find ourselves and realize our true passions. It allows us to serve our students, to be open-minded, adjusting to their needs and meeting them where they are. It allows us to lead, to adapt to new challenges and face them head on. Change is the fuel of idealism, the vehicle for social justice and educational equality. We serve for change.
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