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City Year Corps Member of the Month: Elizabeth Barbera

School Serving: Grew Elementary School, Boston

Hometown: Merrimack, New Hampshire

What made you decide to join City Year? 

I learned about City Year my freshman year of college at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and always loved the idea of it. Throughout my time at UNH, I had multiple internships working with adults with disabilities. While doing this work, I saw that so many of the behavioral challenges my clients had could have been significantly reduced if they had access to the right resources, education, and people during their adolescence. I decided to do City Year to help people and provide them with the support that could hopefully brighten their future.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year? 

I am committed to serving with City Year because of one of the same beliefs that founded City Year, "the belief that young people possess the capability and passion to bring change to their communities if given the right tools and mentors to guide them". This belief is what motivates me every day to show up and not give up when things become challenging. The power of making someone feel seen, heard, and understood is unbeatable. I am committed to serving because of my students. I know one day each and every one of them will be successful in whatever they want to do. To get to that day they need someone who not only believes in them but supports them.

How do you know you are making a difference?

After the first week of school it was hard for me to imagine what kind of impact I could make on the school, classroom, and in my individual students. Just over a month in, and I still may not see a big life changing impact, but I do see little changes happen every day. A difference I have seen with the whole school is through our morning greeting. Every morning we stand outside and welcome our students with excitement, celebrating that they made it to school. The first week and a half we had a lot of push back, with only the youngest students interested in participating. Now, we not only have kids participate, but students who stand with us to welcome their classmates, and others who run to us with excitement to receive our high fives with a smile on their face. The best part of my day though is being in the classroom. I already see a difference in my relationship with my students. Every day I get welcomed with warm smiles and greetings, they are eager to work with me, and they respect me not only as an adult in the classroom, but as a mentor as well.

What does it mean to you to have Bain Capital sponsor your team? 

To have a company such as Bain Capital sponsor our team means the world. Because of this sponsorship I can go to school, help my students, and give them the resources they need. I know the 2018-2019 Grew City Year team thoroughly enjoyed the appreciations, meet and greets, and partnership provided by Bain Capital. I'm looking forward to meeting some of the staff at Bain Capital and am hopeful we will have many opportunities to engage with each other throughout my service year!

Please share a Starfish Story 

During the first fourth grade independent reading session of the year I had a student approach me and ask if we could read together. For the last four weeks, we've developed a process where we take turns reading each chapter during every independent reading time. One morning the student approached me and said, "Don't be mad but I read a few of your chapters last night". I looked at him and said, "That is amazing! Can you summarize what I missed"?  It took him a minute to get his thoughts in order, but he was able to summarize what I had missed. Independent reading time has become something this student looks forward to. As we near the end of this book we are starting to discuss reading a more challenging, longer book. Through independent reading I have not only formed a better relationship with this student, I have also seen them become more confident in their reading and academics.

Life After City Year:

After my service with City Year I plan on going to grad school at Lesley University to become a dance therapist. Dance therapy uses movement and dance to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals. It also helps promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration. Specifically, I want to work with children with autism and give them educational tools and resources to succeed in life. While in graduate school I am looking to hopefully working in a hospital in Boston on the psychiatric unit.