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City Year Corps Member of the Month - November: Payton Lavery Huse

11.30.16

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Over the past 15 years, Bain Capital has sponsored teams of AmeriCorps members, helping develop and support more than 200 young idealist giving a year of service. For the 2016-2017 school year, the firm has extended that commitment to sponsor teams of corps members serving in Boston, London, New York, Providence and San Jose/Silicon Valley. The corps members are inspiring and a great way to get to the heart of what makes City Year great.

City Year Corps Member of the Month - November: Payton Lavery Huse

Name: Payton Lavery Huse

School serving: Clyde Arbuckle Elementary School

Hometown: Nevada, Iowa  

What made you decide to join City Year?

I decided to join City Year late in my senior year of college. I had applied to a few PhD programs but wasn't sure if I would get in or that I was ready to start graduate school immediately. So I was considering a gap year and wanted to find a meaningful place to spend that year. One of my classmates from the University of Missouri happened to be serving at City Year Chicago. I noticed a few of her social media posts about it and looked further into the program. I was intrigued by the visible difference City Year has been making in so many cities and the way it provides supplemental resources to existing teachers because I knew I was not in a position to teach a classroom by myself. In a matter of only a few months, I applied to the West Coast region and accepted a position with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year?

I am committed to serving with City Year entirely because of my students. I admit that I am not the most qualified person to be working with these amazing young people. In fact, I believe they deserve more than me. They deserve the best professional youth counselors and the best certified instructors that exist. But I am also aware that Arbuckle Elementary School is not about to hire those people anytime soon for a variety of reasons. I care deeply about injustice, about historically underserved communities and impoverished communities, and I can't guarantee that if I wasn't here that someone else would be, let alone someone that cares about this community. The only thing I can do is show up for my students everyday and commit to serving this community to the best of my ability.

How do you know you are making a difference?

Abstractly, I know I am making a difference in the personal relationships I have with students as they open up with me more and more and strive to exceed my expectations for them. More tangibly, I know I am making a difference in the lives of fourth and fifth graders at Arbuckle Elementary School during our Expanded Learning Time. My class has an average daily attendance of 26 students. Even after full school days, students are eager to cover material for which there isn't time during the regular day.

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

Having Bain Capital sponsor my team contributes to how fun and appealing Expanded Learning Time can be for my students. With Bain Capital's sponsorship, we are able to do intensive engineering projects, stimulating coding projects, and creative art projects among other things. In addition, it allows us to host community events where we showcase students' projects and provide a welcoming environment. It also allows us to create a classroom environment that puts students in the best mindset to learn. For example, I am in the process of building a sort of mystical reading corner, and I have already seen the students' desire to learn increase. This wouldn't be possible without the funds for these critical resources.

Please share a Starfish Story

I work closely with a fourth grade girl named Keani and a fifth grade girl named Zarynah. They are the only two African American girls in fourth and fifth grade, so they have lacked a sense of belonging at Arbuckle Elementary School, which is pretty homogeneously Mexican American. I have worked with both of them a lot to build their confidence and comfort in their own skin. We watch music videos by Solange Knowles, an African American artist who has worn a variety of natural hairstyles from braids to afros. We talk about what they do well in school, who treats them well in school, and why difference and diversity are so valuable. I have seen how building them up and better incorporating their stories and experiences into our class has created a more inclusive and safe environment for all of our students.

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