City Year Detroit helps students discover 'ah-ha!'

Program serves 6,500 students in 10 city schools

DETROIT – City Year Detroit core members work in 10 city schools helping more than 6,500 public school students succeed this school year---and beyond. 

Amar McCamey is a ninth-grader at Osborn High School. Today, he's getting one on help from a City Year core member who's helping him with his math work. 

RELATED: Interested in working for City Year Detroit? Learn more here.

"Once we do the math we got to go over it and see how to do it more detailed and like show our work and the correct way if we get it wrong we correct it," Amar said. 

He is one of thousands of detroit public school students participating in the City Year program

"City Year to me is a dream and I greatly appreciate their support in our school," Amar said. 

Pashawn Johnson is principal of Osborn High School. 

"City Year is amazing," she said. "I encountered them on my the first year I was here and I was like, 'Who are these people coming into the class?'"

Pashawn Johnson, Osborn High School principal
Pashawn Johnson, Osborn High School principal

City year's motto: every child has potential. City year members go into schools in urban communities across the country. Right now they're focused on 29 different cities where students need help -- cities just like Detroit. Core members organize programming at night to give students something to do and a sense of belonging if they don't join other clubs. It also gives them an opportunity to receive one-on-one tutoring.    

"It gives them that, that sense that they can be successful through high school just starting off with knowing there's someone they can go to," Johnson said.

City Year Detroit has 91 core members -- ages 18  to 25 -- working in 10 Detroit public schools this year. Members are grouped in teams of eight to 12 and assigned to school where they work all day. They support teachers in the classroom, tutor individual students who may be struggling with attendance, behavior or core subjects like math and reading. It's full-time work, 7 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. on school days. 

"I have always wanted to be a part of something in detroit where i will be making a difference because I was born and raised here, and I was a DPSCD student myself," said Miosha Page, a City Year Detroit core members. "And so being here and being able to see the change in our students, there's no way to describe that feeling already and it's just November." 

A City Year Detroit mentor works with a student.
A City Year Detroit mentor works with a student.

Page said she's always looking for the "ah-ha" moments in students where they break through on a problem or discover something they weren't able to do before. As those moments pile up, confidence grows. 

"I feel like once we get those ah-ha moments, I'm like doing something very, very special," Page said. "Like sometimes you're like, 'Am I really, you know, doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Am I being as effective as I can be?' And when we see our students get those ah-ha moments it's like, 'Yeah, I'm doing this, they're getting it, they're building those skills  and we're being a consistent and reliable support to them." 

City Year Detroit continues to grow, expanding from seven to 10 schools this year and the hope to add 2-3 schools over the next few years. 

More about City Year Detroit here: https://www.cityyear.org/detroit

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