Little Readers Rock

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Photography by Jamison Mosley | Shot on Location at Stephens Elementary School

 width=   Courtney Brown believes in the life-long pursuit of happiness and learning. She is deeply devoted to the ideal that everyone has the capacity to learn and succeed. “As early as second grade, I was helping classmates who couldn’t grasp concepts as quickly. Even then, I knew I wanted to work in education.” After graduating as valedictorian from J.A. Fair High School, she attended Tennessee State University and dedicated more than a decade to the classroom. As City Year Little Rock Director of Impact, she blends her wisdom + wit to help cultivate the next generation of leaders. 

   City Year Little Rock recruits and trains AmeriCorps members to serve as tutors and mentors in partner schools. “As student success coaches – these young adults provide academic, emotional and social support to help kids achieve their full potential.” As a product of the Little Rock School District, Courtney recognizes the intrinsic value of the program in schools like Stephens Elementary. “Every student has a story; we develop relationships with a ‘focus list’ of students to understand them.” The narrative becomes easier to navigate and obstacles of learning can often be overcome. Data indicates improved test scores of students involved with City Year Little Rock. Courtney directs the program with ease + enthusiasm. “There’s nothing quite like visiting our partner schools and hearing the pitter-patter of students in the halls – it brings out the teacher in me.”

   The benefits of the City Year model are two-fold. The organization not only partners with the Little Rock School District for student success, but also provides critical workforce development to AmeriCorp members. For Courtney, one of the most fulfilling aspects of her tenure is watching the personal and professional development of these young professionals. “Seeing them become more confident melts my heart.” She recalls an individual who struggled with extreme nervousness throughout much of the summer training and contemplated quitting, but Courtney and the rest of the team recognized natural leadership skills. “The AmeriCorps member not only completed the first year of service but also decided to return for a second year, taking on the role of a team leader.” City Year Little Rock Senior Vice President & Executive Director Jennifer Cobb adds, “Courtney guides our AmeriCorps members with purpose and positivity, equipping them with the tools they need to excel as student success coaches and later in life.”

   As the organization approaches its 20th anniversary, City Year Little Rock embarks on an ambitious plan to make an even greater impact – creating positive, responsive and welcoming environments for student to thrive. With 23 AmeriCorps members serving nearly 3,000 students in Little Rock, students have the opportunity for accelerated academic growth. “I am humbled and excited to be a part of the team that’s helping ensure all students in Central Arkansas can succeed.”

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