Anessa Amer is a Team Leader at Denny International Middle School. Last year she served as a corps member at Denny, tutoring and mentoring students. She is from New Hampshire and graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She enjoys reading and playing Rivals for Catan in her free time. After City Year, she plans to pursue a career as a teacher.
Why do you serve?
I serve because if it weren’t for a handful of influential people in my life who taught me to truly value education, I would not be here today. I grew up in a poor rural community, in a family that wasn’t always stable, and my academic performance sometimes reflected my surroundings.
There is no doubt in my mind that I would have been on a corps member’s focus list, if I was fortunate enough to have City Year at my school. Instead, I was blessed with handful of fantastic teachers throughout school. They took the time to work extra hard to give me the tools to learn with dyslexia and to get me on track to eventually graduate from college. I serve to be that support for the youth we work with.
What have you learned so far?
More than any other experience I’ve had, City Year has taught me about determination, focus, building relationships, flexibility, leadership, education, being part of a team, and perseverance. I have grown and shifted so much in my skin that some days I think when I look in the mirror my bone structure will be different.
City Year has pushed me; City Year has tried me; City Year has built me up and knocked me down; City Year has opened my eyes to the type of life I want and the type of future I want for everyone.
What is the biggest difference between being a Corps Member at Denny International Middle School last year and being a Team Leader there this year?
Last year, I served as a corps member. The bulk of my work was to address the drop out crisis as a mentor and tutor at Denny. This year I am a team leader. How I address the drop out crisis is leading and managing the service of nine corps members who are working in the same role I held last year.
This year I spend much less time working directly with Denny students, or as I like to call them, “scholars”. When I took this position I thought I would still have time to see my students from last year, keep an eye on them, and maybe even work with them occasionally. Unfortunately, the only time I really get to interact with my scholars from last year is after school during our Heroes program, because I spend so much time managing the work of corps members.
Additionally, I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much extra work I would have to do, and how little time I would have to actually be with students. Don’t get me wrong, the Heroes are great and I have loved planning lessons and activities for them, but there is something especially hard about seeing the scholars you had grown so attached to the year before and not being able to work with them every day, like I did last year.
I find myself still checking in with them in the hallways reminding them to be on time to class and checking their grades. But the best part of still being at Denny and a part of City Year is that I get to work with nine new exceptional corps members who will help to continue the work my team and I started and knowing all of our scholars are in good hands.