Amanda Latham is a Double Duke currently living in Detroit, MI. She graduated with her Masters in Public Administration in May 2014 and her B.S. in Public Policy and Administration in 2013. Amanda is currently an AmeriCorps member serving with the education based non-profit City Year Detroit until June. After that, she hopes to find herself back on the east coast working in higher education or in the non-profit field.
My name is Amanda Latham, and I’m a Double Duke, graduating from James Madison University with my B.S. in Public Policy and Administration in 2013, and my Master of Public Administration in 2014. I live in Detroit, Michigan and work for City Year, an organization committed to keeping students in school and on track to graduation. I serve a cohort of 9th graders at Cody High School in southwest Detroit. The Cody campus was broken up into three small schools a few years back to cut down on the violence between students. While they do share the same campus, the three schools are treated as separate with different uniforms, lunch times, and classroom space. Originally, there were five small schools but through the years, they have cut down to three: the Academy of Public leadership (APL), the Detroit Institute of Technology (DIT), and the Academy of Medicine and Community Health (MCH). My team splits up between the three schools and we all work with 9th graders on the Cody campus.
Studies have shown that there are four indicators that help us determine if a student is at risk of dropping out of school: low attendance, poor behavior, and low course performance in ELA/Math. City Year bases their model on these four indicators and creates focus lists of students that may need more direct intervention by corps members. We provide attendance coaching, run a leadership program, provide extra academic support to our Math and ELA students, and attend their classes to give class-wide support to the students and teachers. My team also holds tutoring hours after school twice a week for all students.
My job is fairly exhausting, but I love my students and my coworkers. I always had a high respect for educators but this experience has taken that respect to a whole new level. We have some significant behavioral problems and DPS faces their own challenges that trickle down to our students. Still, the teachers work hard for their students and it has been amazing to go through some of the highs and lows with them.
As for my students, they are hilarious, rambunctious, sassy and at times, a bit of a handful. Cody does not academically tier the cohorts so the range of students in my class is incredible. I have some students who work very hard with little to no direction and others that require much more focus. I have not had an extraordinary ‘Dear Diary’ moment with a student like so many of the movies suggest, but I’ve had my fair share of small moments that make me extremely happy that I chose to come to Detroit and work with these students.