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 City Year Corps Member of the Month - September 2017: Brittany Spicer

Name: Brittany Spicer

School Serving: Henry Grew Elementary, Boston

Hometown: Warren, MI

What made you decide to join City Year?

I decided to join City Year because it aligned with my personal values and combined my drive for social justice with my desire to work with students.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year?

I am committed because of the tremendous power I see on a daily basis within my students. Seeing joy on their faces when they understand a new math concept, the pride in their voices as they read me their writing, and the growing confidence they show as they take on leadership roles throughout the school confirms that the work we do in schools is important and making a positive impact.

How do you know you are making a difference?

I know I am making a difference because I see growth within my students. Improving test scores and more complete homework are two tangible ways to see that growth, but I've also seen it in their growing social-emotional skills and self-confidence.

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.

One of my students was very quiet for the first part of the year. He would often sit in the back of class and keep to himself, not fully engaging with any of the lessons of the day. I ended up working with him on both coursework and social-emotional learning. Even when we were working one-on-one, it was difficult to get him to speak and share his thoughts with me, and when he did it was extremely quiet. Because he didn't cause many distractions in the classroom, he often went unnoticed, but I knew based on the work we'd done together that he had incredible things to say; he just wasn't always confident enough to share them.

We began working on two social-emotional skill sets in particular: relationship skills and optimistic thinking. Each week, we would meet and set goals that encouraged him to build relationships within our class and the school community in a way that he was comfortable with. This often meant he found ways to help out different people, or tried to learn something new about a different person each day. Simultaneously, I worked with him on activities to build his confidence and the amount of positive self-thoughts he had each day. When I would notice him excelling at something during the day, I would either compliment his efforts or write him a short appreciation note. We also would do reflection activities and he would write letters to himself about his strengths and the way he had a positive influence on our class.

As time went on, I would hear him sharing his thoughts in class more often, see him playing with more students during recess and activity times, and my teammates would come up to me telling me that he finally talked to them about their common interests. The way he carried himself shifted dramatically from the beginning of the year and it was evident that he felt more confident. In the spring, he began shifting his focus from building himself up to helping others feel better. His goals started focusing on being a mentor to the second-graders he would sometimes play soccer or basketball with before school. I would see him go out of his way to not only set a positive example, but find ways to relate to them and encourage them to keep trying if they got frustrated. Seeing his shift to a confident leader in our school makes me incredibly proud and sure that he's going to excel when he transitions to middle school.