What I Live for as a Program Manager

Today’s guest blogger is Rob Mowring, Program Manager for the Microsoft Diplomas Now Team at Newtown High School in Elmhurst. Rob is a City Year New York alumni of the 07-08 and 08-09 corps.

Team meeting at Newtown High School led by Program Manager Rob Mowring. Rob served his first four years at CYNY in East New York Brooklyn before leading the Microsoft Diplomas Now Team at Newtown HS.

I joined City Year New York 5 years ago as a Corps Member looking for the opportunity to work with students living in communities similar to the one I grew up in, who were falling behind academically and lacking positive role models. Five years later and now in my 3rd Program Manager year and I find that my duties move me further away from why I initially signed up to “give a year, change the world”.

With anything you do for an extended period of time there’s always the danger of falling into a routine and becoming bored or less passionate about what you are doing. Therefore, I feel it’s important to continue to seek those moments of clarity around why you continue to do what you are doing. For me that “aha” moment came earlier this month when observing my Newtown High School Team.

Tuesday, October 11th was PSAT Day at Newtown HS, which meant the upperclassmen were taking their PSATs, and many of the teachers were proctorig the exam. This left my team charged with the task of planning 3 periods of programming for the 9th Grade Academy. With October being Anti-Bullying Awareness Month, the team decided to facilitate a session on bullying. The Corps Members led students in various activities through which students were able to identify different types of bullying, breakdown stereotypes, and share their experiences through a large group discussion. The highlight was having students watch PSAs about bullying and then work in small groups to write their own PSAs. The team was able to motivate the students by informing them that 3 of the group’s PSA proposals would be selected and the members of those groups would receive a pizza party and film their PSAs to be shown to the rest of the school community. 

For me, days like this are a reminder of why I continue to serve with City Year. As I no longer get to work directly with students, I find my motivation in seeing the Corps Members I manage be successful. This was their first major assignment and they stepped up and did an amazing job. They were able to fill a need of school administration, identify and address a relevant student issue and create programming that was meaningful and engaging to the students. The positive energy from knowing that I did something great for the students was a feeling I lived for as a Corps Member. Seeing my Corps Members get that same feeling is what I live for as a Program Manager. Thank you to the Microsoft Diplomas Now Team at Newtown High School for reminding me why I continue to serve.