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Langston Hughes Academy Team Spotlight

September 13, 2012

By Matt Durham, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Langston Hughes Academy

Dream it. Do it. Be it.

So goes the slogan of Langston Hughes Academy, the school where I serve. At LHA we are not teachers, mentors, or coaches. Well, not exactly, anyway. We are all dream-keepers. You see, the hallways of our school are punctuated with selections from the poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes:

“Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.


Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.”

As dream-keepers, we keep thoughts like these with us close at heart. On my first day with the fifth-graders, a student told me that she wanted to one day go to Harvard Law, just like President Obama. What struck me most about her goal was that she spoke with a expectation of certainty, that she knew with enough work her dream would become a reality.

I guess that is part of our mission here as City Year corps members at Langston Hughes Academy. To encourage our scholars to hold on to their dreams, and never let them die. Each homeroom in our school is dedicated to a different college. From a young age all of our learners think about college, ask questions about college, and prepare to one day, with enough hard work,  have the opportunity to attend college.

The corps members serving at LHA are filled with eccentricity, creativity, passion, and enthusiasm. Our members come from all stops along the education journey. We have a member fresh out of high school, some taking a break from college, and some college graduates. We come from all over the country: New Mexico, New England, Chicago, and New Orleans to name a few.

Each day when final circle comes around I am awestruck by the stories my teammates share with me. Yes we have our share of misbehavior to deal with and demerits to hand out, but there will always be a member or two who really connected with a new student, or finally got difficult material to click with a struggling scholar. Those are the moments of radiant positivity that make what we do meaningful.

We decided to decorate our team room in much the same way as the rest of the school (except we painted with City Year colors, of course). The scholars at LangstonHughesAcademy are inspired by the work of their school’s namesake whenever they walk down just about any hallway. Our team room has moving quotes from thinkers like Malcolm X and Shel Silverstein that we selected to paint on the walls. But there’s one quote in particular that has always helped to inspire me, and it’s one that our team has really embraced as we move forward in our City Year careers:





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