‘Student Success Coaches’ volunteer pledge to help Memphis children

‘Student Success Coaches’ volunteer pledge to help Memphis children

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More Memphians are giving back to their community. Memphis has one of the highest rates of participation for the national Americrops program, and one of the participants is back in the halls she once walked as a student to give back.

Bright and early at 7:30 a.m., the members of CityYear Memphis are ready for the day. Every day the group greets kids at Westside Middle School in Frayser and another half dozen schools in Shelby County.

DeAirra Shotwell used to be a student at Westside.

“We didn't have CityYear at Westside [when I was here],” Shotwell said. “So, I didn't have those individuals around me to give me that extra boost.”

CityYear is part of Americorps. This weekend, the group took its pledge to serve Memphis for the next year. There are 45 Americorps members with CityYear this year, and 18 are from Memphis.

Signing up for Americorps and CityYear can take you across the country. Shotwell wanted to be in Memphis and in her home community of Frayser.

“They feel that there is some hope in our community,” Shotwell said.

“This community means a lot of us,” Westside Middle School Principal Dr. Rodney Peterson said. “With DeAirra being in the position that she's in to give back she's able to connect quickly to those students.”

Those with CityYear are called Student Success Coaches at school.

They support teachers anyway they need it. Their days are filled with everything from pep talks to personalized sessions with the students.

“They can just show they can succeed no matter where they come from,” Peterson said.

“They look at me and see she wants to be here, and she’s striving toward greater things,” Shotwell said. “I’m striving for those things that people say we can’t have.”

After a year of service, the CityYear members receive money they can use for college or to pay off student loans. Shotwell is studying to become a High School English teacher.

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