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City Year Corps Member of the Month - November 2019: Stephanie Gonzalez

School Serving: Arbuckle Elementary, San Jose

Hometown: East Palo Alto, CA

What made you decide to join City Year?

I decided to join City Year because of personal experience. When I was in elementary school, I struggled and was afraid to ask for help because I didn't have the support or guidance that all students need. Joining this organization was a perfect fit, allowing me to support students in a way that I wish I had been supported as a young student. Being able to connect with and mentor my students has also helped open my eyes to so many other pieces of my student's lives that effect their school experience.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year?  

I am committed to serving with City Year because of the motivation that my students give me every day. Every day when I get up, I do it for myself and most importantly I do it for each one of my students; they are helping me become a better advocate, educator, and all-around person. Every day, I learn something new from a student and those experiences affirm that I love what I do.

How do you know you are making a difference?

I know I am making a difference for my students when I witness "Ah-ha" moments. I enjoy teaching new lessons to my students and love to see their faces light up in the moment when they understand a new topic. I have many students who complain about doing work but when I take the time to coach them individually, they light up just like their futures: bright and intelligent. I know I am making a difference when I can have thoughtful conversations with my students. When students put their trust in me to talk about certain topics that they might not always feel comfortable sharing, the relationships become stronger and more impactful.  

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

Having Bain Capital as our Team Sponsor is very special because we know that someone is out there supporting what we do. Not many can understand the work we do, so having someone who supports us and knows what we do and why we do is very appreciative.

Please share a Starfish Story

In my 1st and 2nd grade afterschool classroom, there are a few students who struggle with understanding why they receive homework and must complete it daily. I had one specific student who constantly complained about doing homework, asking the same question almost every day of why he needed to do it. The first couple of weeks working with this student were incredibly challenging and he would have emotional breakdowns and try to get out of doing his homework. Over the past few weeks, I found out that he was afraid to ask for help since none of his peers were asking for help on their homework. Once I committed to working with him one-on-one during homework time, he became less afraid to ask for help. While there are days where I feel like our relationship is back at square one, I strive to be a consistent source of support and reinforce this positive change in his behavior. He has made a huge improvement in such little time and I know there is so much more opportunity for his growth. I am excited to see his progress as the year continues!