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Baton Rouge organization making positive impacts with focus on academic success

A Baton Rouge program is working to set students on a path to success by providing academic support and creating learning environments where all students can succeed.

The key goals of City Year include improving academic skills, such as math and literacy; keeping high school students on track to graduate on time and helping students develop interpersonal skills such as self-awareness and self-management. This year, City Year AmeriCorps members and staff are working directly in Glen Oaks Magnet High School, Melrose Elementary School, Brookstown Middle School, Claiborne-Howell Park Elementary School, Kenilworth Science and Technology School and Louisiana Key Academy.

“A lot of the work is about building partnerships between the schools and City Year,” said Arquavious Gordon, a senior impact manager who works with Glen Oaks Magnet High School. “We do a lot of work to track student attendance and course grades. We are able to use that data at City Year to see what areas we need to target to help them succeed and stay on the path to graduation.”

Gordon added that there is a high emphasis on keeping students engaged in their academic lives throughout the year. That includes attendance and behavior initiatives to encourage students to come to school and do their best when they are there.

“We want to make school a place where students want to come and where they can have fun and grow,” Gordon said.

Since launching in 2006, City Year staff have been deeply embedded into the leadership and culture of their schools. For example, Gordon works with Glen Oaks administrators and campus deans on multiple projects, including the 50 Acts of Kindness curriculum, said Glen Oaks Assistant Principal Dionne McCurry.

McCurry said City Year AmeriCorps members also provide academic support, small group interventions and assistance for educators.

“They support our instructors with technology integration in the classrooms, assist the counselor with career and college planning partners for our high school students, as well as lead and collaborate on various service projects around our campus, such as our Club Fair and Character Circle leads.”

McCurry noted that most City Year AmeriCorps members are only a few years out of high school themselves, which means they can often relate to the challenges and opportunities facing current students.

“We can always look forward to our City Year AmeriCorps members lending a helping hand, greeting us with a warm smile each day and just exuding an overall willingness to support the campus in whatever initiatives that we put forth,” she said. “Our City Year AmeriCorps members have built authentic relationships with our faculty and students, and we couldn’t imagine our campus without their support.”

Shamone Williams, a City Year AmeriCorps member, said that close integration between City Year and the school is what sets it apart from other programs. In addition, the focus at City Year is on academic success. Williams said some of her work includes making sure students understand lessons, can find answers on their own and can excel on standardized tests. The rewards are plentiful for students and City Year, she said.

“The most rewarding experience is watching students who weren’t performing their best who now succeed from the beginning to the end of the school year,” Williams said. “I worked with one particular student on their behavior and academics. Watching him thrive and giving him tools to do positive things is by far my most memorable experience.”

Gordon said he realized the positive impact City Year is making when he noticed students becoming AmeriCorps members for the organization.

“That let me know we were making a true impact on their lives,” he said. “They wanted to do the same thing and help better their community. If you have a passion for education, working with kids and community service, this is the place for you.”

For more information on City Year and how to get involved, visit


*Read the original post at The Advocate!

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