My CYteam: Malcolm X Elementary


written by Frank Cervarich, team leader of the CSX Team serving at Malcolm X Elementary School

My name is Frank Cervarich and I proudly serve on the CSX Team at Malcolm X Elementary School. Our team is made up of eight people from very different backgrounds, from all over the country. We each bring very different skills to the table: one of our teammates wants to be a lawyer, another a doctor, another a CEO of a non-profit, and so on. What I bring to the table is puppets.

I studied Theatre at the University of Maryland as an undergrad, and began to work with puppets. At the beginning of March, I brought puppets to the school’s science fair. Pointless Theatre, the theater company that I am a part of, performed “The Solar System Show,” a show about a wacky scientist named Dr. Canterbury Osmand, his best friend Sparko the robot, and their pet Rocky the rock, as they journey through our solar family to find Rocky’s home, teaching kids about the planets and having them chant “I love learning!” along the way.

Frank at the CSX team's STEM night event

I could not have done this without the support of my team – Andrea, Charitee, Christina, Hunter, Katie, Lauren, and Yoni. They encouraged me, and helped realize a dream that I had from the first day of entering our school. Despite our different backgrounds, we stay united by supporting each other, and realizing what we all share in common: the belief in our students, and an unwavering commitment to their well-being.

There’s something special about Malcolm X, and the people who serve here. As the rapper DMX once said, “X gonna give it to ya.” This has been adopted as the tongue-in-cheek mantra of my team. Every team in City Year has to face unimaginable challenges, but what makes our team special is that we have faced challenges that many teams might otherwise not confront. For example, our school is a school without walls. There are no traditional classrooms, but rather spaces separated with dividers, within a larger open space.

Our administration is brand new to Malcolm X as well, and they are working to turn the school around. As a result, there have been significant changes from the beginning of the year, including new staff members, new classrooms, and a new aftercare model. I am proud to serve on my team because of our collective tenacity. In the face of challenges, we have been flexible and our team has come out stronger, harder, and better. “X gonna give it to ya” started as a joke, but has taken on a new meaning for me. It means that we are always going to be delivering the highest level of service possible for our students. We will not quit. “X gonna give it to ya” is not just a phrase, it is a part of our team culture, a rallying cry for the work that we do every day. I proudly serve on the CSX Team at Malcolm X.

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