City Year Report Card

At the end of each school year, we look back at the impact we have had in Little Rock schools. This data informs our future decisions and strategic planning. To learn more about the difference our AmeriCorps Members made in Little Rock schools last year, look at our 2015-2016 Impact Report here, or click the infographic below.

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Hooked on Comics at Mabelvale Middle School

City Year Little Rock AmeriCorps Member Wanda with a student and her hand-drawn comic

By City Year Little Rock AmeriCorps Member Charlotte Beal

Walking around the Mabelvale Middle School library, one will notice the shelves that house comic books are almost bare. The library has long waiting lists for Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Akira, and many other comics. Students read comic books while walking to class, eating lunch, and riding the bus home. They enjoy drawing them too; their notebooks are filled with stylized drawings of characters they've invented.

To meet student interest, the Mabelvale Middle School City Year team is organizing Hooked on Comics. This will be an opportunity for students to write their own comic and share it with the school community. This initiative is a way for students to enrich their literacy skills, because successful comics require character development, cohesive dialogue, and a narrative plot.

At the beginning of every month, the City Year Literacy Coordinators will unveil a new topic, and students have the entire month to complete their comic. The topics align with the school's word of the month; this month's word is acceptance. Although writing a comic about acceptance seemed daunting to students, with some encouragement from City Year AmeriCorps Members, they realized there are many ways to incorporate acceptance. Their characters can accept a challenge, accept themselves for who they are, or accept others despite their flaws.

6th grade English teacher, Dr. Luther Williams, is encouraging his students to participate: "I think this initiative will benefit our students and will plant seeds for years to come."

About 40 students are writing comics this month. The City Year team is excited to see what the students produce and hang up the comics in the school's main hallway. The kids are excited too; as 6th grader Ken suggests, "I love comics! I like to write them too."

AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Johnisha Graham

Johnisha is currently serving her first year at McClellan High School.

Johnisha.jpgWhy did you choose to join City Year Little Rock?
I believe in the power of education, the power of mentorship, and most importantly the power of young people. I am originally from a small town located in southeastern Arkansas. My journey to CYLR started after I graduated from college (The University of Central Arkansas) in May and finished up a summer internship in Alabama working with inner city youth. My experience in Alabama helped me realize how much I enjoy serving and working with children. I began looking for opportunities to serve at home. After seeking out AmeriCorps opportunities I was contacted by City Year’s recruitment team and I knew it was what I wanted to do for the next year!

What do you expect to get out of your year of service?
I expect to learn a lot from the students and from the schools we serve. This year the Little Rock School District's theme is, "The Power of Us", so I'm excited to explore that concept and figure out how my year of service can help play a role in “us” empowering the future leaders of the world.

How has City Year affected you so far?
City Year for me has positively impacted my life, even in these short few months. We serve long ten hour days, but at the end of the day it helps to know that my team and I helped make a difference in a student's life.  

Tell about a struggle you are facing as an AmeriCorps member.
Honestly, a struggle for me would have to be the living stipend. Getting adjusted to not making a lot of money has been a struggle that I am learning to overcome. This process is teaching me how to budget and manage finances better.

What has been your favorite moment as an AmeriCorps member?
My favorite moment is when we greet the students as they come into the school every morning. Even though my team and I may look silly or goofy cheering early in the morning, it gets the kids excited and engaged, and ready for school. The power of greeting! 


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