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City Year Corps Member of the Month - May 2018: Stephen Lyne

Name: Stephen Lyne

Serving on: New York Civic Engagement Team

Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA

What made you decide to join City Year?

I have always cared deeply about the education system and had dreams of becoming a teacher so, naturally, City Year was one of the options I looked at coming out of college. I attended a City Year open house event in Boston and immediately decided that this was the program for me. City Year was everything I was looking for in a program and I was ecstatic to be accepted into City Year Washington DC. At the end of my first year of service, I wasn't done serving my community, so I decided to shift my focus to civic engagement work and moved to City Year New York.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year?

City Year does amazing things in all the communities we serve, and to be a part of this amazing program is an incredible honor. I love doing the work that City Year allows me to do and there are very few, if any, programs that can do the type of high-quality work that City Year does.

How do you know you are making a difference?

After every service event and service project, I can see in the faces of those we serve just how grateful they are for the work we did. I've seen students amazed and excited with how their school looks, teachers beaming with newfound school pride, and even school administrators being brought to tears. After seeing all of this, I know without a doubt we are making an impact in the community.

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

It means a lot to have a team sponsor as dedicated and caring as Bain Capital. They have done so much for us as a team so far, from allowing us to use their spaces for team meetings to hosting our team summit at Lucky Strike. We are incredibly lucky to have somebody take that much interest in the work we are doing.

Please share a Starfish Story.

One of the students in the 5th grade class I served in last year was struggling with how she fit into the classroom. She was notorious for yelling and talking back to the teacher, throwing tantrums, and getting in screaming matches with her male classmates. She was brilliant and incredibly popular with the girls in the school, but struggled to fit in with anyone else.

My City Year teammates and I really struggled to get through to her. She would completely ignore us in the mornings, despite us trying to say hi during power greeting, and would give curt answers when we asked her questions.

I needed to try to find a different way to get through to her because what we'd been doing, wasn't having an effect on her. So I decided to be a little sassy and push back a little. Whenever she would yell or make a face at something I said, I would just ignore it or give her the stink eye- something different to challenge her a little bit instead of accepting her behavior and moving on.

It knocked her for a loop. She was surprised that someone reacted in a way that wasn't getting angry and yelling at her. Slowly, she started to open up a little more to me. One day, she waved back to me when I said good morning to her during power greeting. She started to say hi to me in the halls and would respond when I asked her to do something. She participated a little more in class and stopped arguing as much with some of the guys in class. She felt more comfortable in the classroom and started to excel.

Granted, she still yelled sometimes and got a little too loud (habits don't change that easily). But anytime she would, I would give her the stink eye, she would laugh, and then go back to doing what she was supposed to be doing. Something as simple as changing up the reaction towards a student, even if it was a little unorthodox, made a huge difference in how a student handled themselves in the classroom and allowed her to succeed in ways few thought possible.