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City Year Corps Member of the Month - February 2018: Tyree Smith

Name: Tyree Smith

School Serving: Blackstone Innovation School, Boston

Hometown: Washington, DC

What made you decide to join City Year?

I decided to join City Year because I aspire to become a teacher, but I wanted to make sure it was something I was passionate about before I paid for a degree in education. City Year has allowed me to give teaching a try and has fueled my fire to want to teach.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year?

I am committed to serving with City Year because, although it may not be huge, I am making a difference to students every day. My students receive support from my team and I that they wouldn’t get at a school without City Year. Every day I walk into the school, the smiles on the faces of the kids when they see me motivate me to come back the next day. Priceless is the word I would use to describe the feeling that I get when I see my students smiling when they finally understand a frustrating math concept, get a 100 on a vocab test, or have a bad day turn into a good one. That is why I am dedicated.

How do you know you are making a difference?

I know that I am making a difference because of progress that my students are making. I constantly tell them, “progress not perfection,” which basically means that they do not have to be perfect in everything that they do. However, if they give their best effort with everything that they do they have no choice but to progress. Some students definitely struggle with even giving their best effort, but by consistently telling them “progress not perfection,” they eventually learn to strive for progress rather than perfection.

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

Bain Capital has provided my team and my students with so many tremendous opportunities. Bain Capital has been active throughout my corps year by helping our team with events and connecting Bain Capital employees with students at our school. It’s a privilege to have a sponsor who is interested in being so involved with our service.

Please share a Starfish Story.

There is a student who caught my attention on the very first day of school, but not for a good reason. This student had a reputation coming from the third grade as one of those students who was a “trouble maker”. My partner teacher would repeatedly ask me to focus my attention on other kids because he believed that the student thrived off of acknowledgement and would continue to act out.

We work on different things in my classroom and every day, this student kept up with hardly any assistance. I took it upon myself to invite that student to lunch with me just to talk to him, and when I did his face lit up like a Christmas tree. After having a long conversation with the student, I found out that he acted out for attention because he felt that not neither the teachers and staff nor his fellow students liked him. He felt alone when at school. How is one supposed to learn in an environment like that?

Despite those circumstances he is by far one of the brightest kids I’ve ever met. He just longed to have a friend and I became that friend. We began setting goals starting with things like “not being asked to leave the class” or “have less than 5 sticks pulled in a day for a week”. He has made so much progress because the goals we set now are “win student of the day” which he has done multiple times. He is now my right hand man for my lunch with buddies group that I call My Brother’s Keeper. He holds not only himself accountable for his actions, but holds his peers accountable for theirs. He motivates his classmates by reiterating my famous quote “Progress not perfection.”