There have been a lot of people asking about what a day in the life of a DPS AmeriCorps member looks like and I’d like to provide some insight.
A major part of our program focuses on attendance, so one day a week would be spent conducting phone calls to the families of students who have missed a certain amount of days of school. The schools our program has partnered with will send over a list of students who have been identified as high risk drop outs or have missed several classes. I would then work off of a list and attempt to make direct contact with the guardian of the student by calling their personal cell phones, work phone, and finally home phone. I also record the attempt in the district data base so that school staff and teachers can see that contact was attempted. If I am able to get in touch with the guardian, I provide them with information about how many classes / days their student has missed and try to see if I can provide any resources for them to help their student get to class (ie: linking them with a program that gets them a free bus pass if transporation is an issue, linking them with an organization that donates clothing and coats if they cannot walk to school because it is too cold out, etc). I find a lot of the time that the guardians do not even realize their student has missed so many days or what they can do to get them to school. I help provide them information and listen empathetically to what they have to say.
Another day of the week I’ll conduct home visits with my AmeriCorps teammate, working off of a list that our partner schools have provided. These lists are specific and students who have a certain amount of absences are top priority, so I set off going to their provided address and knock on their doors with hopes that their parent or guardian is home so that I can talk face to face with them about the concern from the school. I am not a truancy officer, I never threaten to punish the student or the parent for not being at school, rather I seek to understand with the parent about what can be done to help get their student to school. I do my best to provide them with information regarding relevant resources and always direct them to the school’s social worker or attendance liaison for further information about their child’s attendance as well as more detailed information that could help with their unique situation.
Two days out of the week I am at my school site, working with my AmeriCorps teammate and my Resource Advocate, who is akin to a site supervisor, but also works for the school to bring community resources and partners to the school level. It is here that a majority of our planning and executing occurs for ways to create service projects that benefit the community, school, families, or students (or all of them together). Last year my team put together a school talent show that rocked the community and helped create a strong sense of communal support. At another school site, a team helped lead students to plant and care for their school garden, which provided a lot of educational learning for the kids involved. With service projects, we strive to include the community as a strong supporter of what we’re doing and work to help get them involved in our strong interest and desire to serve our local schools.
Lastly, one day a week, my AmeriCorps partner and I can be found in our local community serving the public from our AmeriCorps hub, which is a large yellow and purple tent with a giant AmeriCorps logo on the top and both English and Spanish translations of Denver Public Schools. I find that this is a great way to draw community attention as most people have not seen anything like this in their neighborhood before. This is our mobile part of the job, where we set up shop with our computers and portable wifi devices so we can find the people rather than waiting for the people to find us. We set up in high traffic areas and a table set up with various information about local community events, school information, local resources that serve those in need, and other important flyers.
It is hard to say that this is a typical day serving my term of service, because truthfully, I meet so many different and interesting people, that even though I have the same structure week to week, the variety of people I meet and the various work that I do makes every day feel new.