City Year Milwaukee helps bilingual students

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by Nate Kuester

MILWAUKEE -- An Americorps program is making a difference in our community by empowering Milwaukee Public Schools students to take charge of their futures through a strong foundation in education.

The young men and women, who serve as corps members of the City Year Milwaukee program, are not exactly your average, everyday educators. They are young. They are energetic. And They are focused on making sure students, in the highest need schools, are where they need to be to succeed. That's a message MPS educators greatly appreciate.

"When kids are in an actual seat, in front of a teacher, they have a better opportunity of success," said Rogers Street Academy principal Ramon Cruz

Ten-year-old student Alexandra Moreno works colsely with City Year corps member Khan Tran in her fifth-grade bilingual classroom at the Rogers Street Academy in Milwaukee's South side. She was quick to point out what a difference Khan has made in the classroom.

"He helps us on our skills that we're working on," said Alexandra. "Today we're working on 'main idea' and 'details.' So he just goes around the groups and helps us."

She is just one of the 6,500 students the program serves. It is corps members, like Khan, who have made a one year commitment to City Year. And his resolve to make a difference, has touched him deeply.

"I wanna' make them to be the best that they can be so that they can prepare for graduation from high school, and just make a difference in society -- like I am trying to make right now," said Khan.

"We work in partnership with teachers [and] great administration in some really challenging situations," said City Year Milwaukee executive director and vice president Jason Holton. "But with people who are really out for student success. And we want to be a part of that."

"It's awesome," Alexandra told us. "It helps me out a lot."

"They look at the child as a whole," Cruz explained. "So it's not just necessarily just the academics. There is so much more involved."

"We have seen great improvement in their scores in reading and math," Rogers Street Academy fifth grade bilingual teacher Maria Ramos shared.

Ramos works closely with Khan to craft the lessons and activities for students in her class, which she says is a great benefit.

"It's like having another teacher in the classroom," said Ramos.

CBS 58 visited. what corps members have dubbed, the 'headquarters of idealism,' -- where they take part in the training programs throughout the year. City Year Milwaukee executive director and vice president Jason Holton says that when you look at the statistics, the data proves these folks make a positive impact.

"Students are doing better in class," said Holton. "They're getting better grades. They're working on their test scores. And also, they have a confidence that perhaps they didn't have because of that one on one relationship [with corps members.]"

"I never, in a thousand years, would have imagined the connections and relationships that I would build with these students," Khan shared.

"We're gonna' remember him too, because he helped us a lot," Alexandra said of Khan.

While the focus is clearly on academics, these students also receive life lessons from Khan and his fellow corps members. Lessons on giving back, and making a difference in the lives of others. Of course Khan has his own selfish reasons for working with talented and bright students like Alexandra.

"I love them to death, you know," said Khan. "They're like my child."

The program has been in place for about four years now. They began working in partnership with five schools, but have since expanded that number to eight. City Year Milwaukee another organization that's  making Milwaukee great.

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