One of our goals at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund is to incorporate a wide variety of voices from the public education community into our blog. That’s why I’m thrilled to introduce you to Katie Slajus, an AmeriCorps member for City Year, an organization that deploys diverse team of young adults to serve full-time as mentors and role models to help keep students in school and on track to graduate.
Katie works as an AmeriCorps member at Edward H. White High School and below she’ll share some reflections on her service. Thank you, Katie, and all of the City Year team for all you do for students! - Deirdre Conner
City Year is founded on ten core values, one of which is teamwork. In almost everything we do, we are on teams. We spend the most amount of time with our school team: together at least ten hours a day, five days a week, ten months a year.
I’ve been on a lot of teams over the course of my life. Some have been great, some not so much. But there was one thing I heard while on every single one: a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Sometimes that “weakest member” would be the one who slacked off on projects, sometimes that “weakest member” would be the one who skipped practice once a week, sometimes that “weakest member” would be the one who came in late to every single meeting, always armed with another excuse. A lot of times, the saying was right. We could have done more, been that little bit better, if not for that “weakest member.”
So what do you get if you’re on a team with no weakest member? What do you get if every person brings their best every day?
Here’s what that looks like — here’s a glimpse of my team’s everyday experience at Edward H. White High School:
You get is a team that won’t stop working until they get things done. You get an impact manager who comes to school every chance he gets and wishes his meetings would never take him elsewhere. You get a corp member desk partner who is never actually at her desk because she spends two and a half hours after school each day teaching kids how to do algebra. You get the mother of a ten-month old who drives over an hour to get to work every day just so she can give her students the help they need. You get the Spanish-speaking member of the team who is willing to teach students anything and everything in their native language.
You get the dynamic literacy duo of corps members, who run a creative writing club and a book club and are applying to grad school/taking college classes on the side. You get a team leader who comes to school with positive energy every day. You get the mother of a second grader who spends the weekends at football games and the weekdays giving everything she has to her students. You get the math genius who will occasionally get frustrated because she wants to work with everyone she possibly can but sometimes just doesn’t have enough time.
You get a team that bounces ideas off each other, that always has each other’s backs, that goes above and beyond every day no matter what.
So what do you get when you’re on a team with no weakest member?
You get greatness.
Katie Slajus, AmeriCorps Member
Edward H. White High School