Before the sun comes up, Taylor Greenberg, an AmeriCorps member at Evans High School, arrives on campus. Uncertain of what the day will hold for her, Taylor is certain about at least one thing … Despite the long hours, and exhausting schedule, she knows that she will make a difference.
“The more kids that we can reach, the bigger difference we can make. I strongly believe that for many kids, the only way out of the unfortunate circumstance that they’re in is education. If they aren’t getting the education that they deserve and that they need because of the surrounding issues in their lives, they’re doomed. They need this support.”
Beginning in September, Taylor and 19 other AmeriCorps members were deployed to Evans and Oak Ridge High Schools in Orange County under United Way’s new AmeriCorps Pathways to Success program. Sponsored by AmeriCorps and Volunteer Florida, Pathways to Success offers academic support and college/career mentoring to 10th through 12th grade students. This means free after-school tutoring, individualized in-classroom attention, help with filing for college financial aid, guidance on determining post-graduation goals, and general mentorship.
“I love my AmeriCorps tutor Mr. Thorne!” said Guiessa Tera, an 11th grader who has been coming to tutoring for several months. “Not only have my focused.”
But, it doesn’t stop there. Pathways to Success AmeriCorps members spend a lot of time with the students and get to know and understand their – often complex – circumstances.
“I always make sure to be there for the students academically, but sometimes there are needs beyond the classroom. There may be something that other teachers may overlook because they have so many students in and out of their classrooms and they have so many other responsibilities for the teaching part of their job. We’re here to help care for the whole student – academically, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
United Way provides wrap-around services to students throughout Central Florida to eliminate barriers to education, like hunger, homelessness, health concerns, lack of supplies and clothing.
In all, Taylor likes the challenge of her role as an AmeriCorps member, but feels selfish at times.
“The kids impact and change your life. This is not a job that you just come in the morning and go home. It’s a big commitment, but in a good way. I think to myself every single day that I have helped a child, and there is nothing more satisfying to me than that.”