Creating Connections from an AmeriCorps Perspective

My term of service as an AmeriCorps Student Engagement Advocate with the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Urban Education Service Corps has been a very challenging and exciting experience. As the first semester comes to a close, I have taken quite a bit of time to reflect on my experience thus far. In the process I have come to appreciate being a part of a great organization like Denver Public Schools (DPS).

Over the past months, I have been given the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the entire district as a whole. Through professional development trainings and other activities, I have had the opportunity to be trained by some of the best, as well as network with many different individuals who work in various departments in the school district. A training that stood out and proved to be extremely beneficial for me was Creating Connections.

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Creating Connections was an engaging, fun, and informative training that gave me the opportunity to build personal and professional skills while being able to connect to other educators from across the district. Through this training, I developed a greater appreciation of every staff member’s role, how the work I am personally engaged in contributes to benefiting the students and families we serve, and how it relates to the core values of the district.

When I registered for Creating Connections, I had no idea what to expect; I did not even know what the training would consist of. The first day I arrived to training, I was a little nervous and a bit confused by the extremely overjoyed and welcoming staff members. We were greeted with so much energy, in addition to the loud music and dancing, helped to ease my anxiety. By the time lunch was served I felt the complete opposite. I was having fun, meeting and networking with new people from different departments, and making connections. By the second day, I was eager and ecstatic to return to training and reunite with my new DPS friends.

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Creating Connections was a very informative training and I loved how enthusiastic the speakers were. Each one of the speakers spoke passionately about playing for Team DPS, and the work that inspires them from day to day. One of the sessions that stood out to me the most during training was the discussion about the DPS Shared Core Values. It is at this moment that I gained a better understanding of the 6 shared district core values that are the foundation of the district, which are: Students First, Integrity, Equity, Collaboration, Accountability, and Fun.

Now that I have a better understanding of the Core Values, I am going to incorporate them into my day-to-day best practices with students and encourage my fellow AmeriCorps members to do the same. Creating Connections taught me how to better articulate, define, and demonstrate the DPS Shared Core Values. In addition, I learned how to expand networks, build relationships across the district, and communicate my personal credo to work more effectively with others. After attending Creating Connections, I am now committed to creating a values-based culture at DPS. I have a better understanding of the Core Values and have dedicated myself to incorporate them into my day-to-day practice with students. In my professional growth to exercise leadership, I have also dedicated myself to encouraging my fellow AmeriCorps members to do the same.

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On a personal note, I have developed my own personal credo that consists of a set of beliefs that will ultimately drive my own thoughts and behaviors. My personal credo is to make a positive impact and create a life changing experience for at least one student during my term of service as an AmeriCorps Student Engagement Advocate. I know that it is not always possible to impact every student single-handedly, but I know that if I can change at least one student’s life in a positive way, I have been successful at my job. I look forward to future professional development trainings that are just as lively, fun, and informative as Creating Connections.

My name is Elia, and I am proud to play for DPS.

– Elia Martin, AmeriCorps member

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