Granite State Education Corps (GSEC) is an AmeriCorps State program under the portfolio of Volunteer NH. We spoke to their program director, Scott Hardy, and a member, James Colarusso, about what the program does and what service looks like. Learn more by visiting this website: https://goodwillnne.org/programs/americorps/positions/goodwill-granite-state-education-corps/.

Scott Hardy, Program Director

When did Granite State Education Corps start as an AmeriCorps program?

Granite State Education Corps started in 2012 and operated as such until 2017. The name of the program changed to Granite State Service Corps while operating from 2018-2021. Goodwill AmeriCorps returned to the program name, Granite State Education Corps in 2022.

What community needs does GSEC address? 

The needs that our program is addressing are those related to youth who have been impacted by adverse childhood experiences. By helping strengthen resiliency, social skills, academic self-efficacy, etc. within the community’s youth population, we are addressing the problem of community social vulnerability and helping those communities become more resilient and thus better equipped to handle challenges, emergencies, and disasters as they come.

What are the goals of this AmeriCorps program?

  • Increase Academic Self-Efficacy: Youth’s motivation and perceived mastery towards positive school performance and increased sense of hope in their capacity to attain academic success.
  • Increase sense of Contribution: youth’s positive engagement with family, community, and society.
  • Increase Self-Management: youth’s ability to regulate their emotions and behavior, take positive risks, and persist through life’s challenges.
  • Increase resiliency (i.e. – youth are able to manage stress and function well even when faced with adversity and trauma).
  • Increase social capital and social skills: youth’s ability to take others’ perspectives into account, develop a sense of caring, and empathy.
  • Increase bonds with people and school/community.
  • Improve capacity for program delivery at the host site

Outputs for GSEC include:

  • 12-15 nonprofits serve as locations with staff and members that youth can trust. These organizations are able to advance their students’ social-emotional development as needed in or out of school time.
  • 50 Volunteers contributing ~1000 hours to support programming.
  • 40 trained AmeriCorps Members will be supported by Goodwill and PEAR staff.
  • 85 youth grades 7-12 meet with members for a total of 10 hours per month throughout the members’ terms, connecting youth to additional interventions and completing goal setting.
  • GSEC will evaluate and produce and assessment of program implementation and impacts.

Outcomes for GSEC include:

  • Youth served feel safe and secure at member-supported organizations and see improvements in knowledge of and changes in healthy behaviors and self-care.
  • At least 43 youth will show improved social and emotional skills as assessed on the HSA-R.
  • Members will show increased knowledge to effectively deliver needed services and mentorship to at-risk students.
  • Youth served will have an increased likelihood of building positive relationships; show resiliency (i.e., are able to manage stress and function well even when faced with adversity and trauma); and demonstrate improvements in goal setting and goal achievement.
  • Members will feel supported by Goodwill in all areas, including in helping to advance their future careers. They will have  gained employable skills through their experiences and through training that increase the likelihood of future employment.

What qualities make an ideal GSEC member?

An ideal GSEC member possesses a combination of personal qualities, skills, and experiences that enable them to effectively support and guide young people, including empathy, patience, respect, encouragement, reliability, cultural competence, and having a growth mindset. Overall, an ideal youth mentor is someone who genuinely cares about the well-being and success of young people, possesses the skills and qualities necessary to support them, and is committed to making a positive difference in their lives.

What is the application process for someone interested in becoming a GSEC member? Who can they contact if they have questions about the program?

To apply, candidates can simply go to https://my.americorps.gov, create an account, and “search listings”. To find our listing, simply type in “Granite State Education Corps” into the program name search field. Once you find the listing, click on it and apply away!

If you have any questions about our program and you’d like to talk to someone, please reach out to the GSEC program coordinator, Scott Hardy at scott.hardy@goodwillnne.org.

James V. Colarusso, Member in Stratham, NH at the Cooperative Middle School since August, 2023

What does a “day in your life” look like?

A day in my life begins the same as everyone else: by waking up. I get to school at 7:00 and check my email. I then head to the cafeteria, where the students are held until 7:13 for homeroom. Every day I monitor the same door where I see the same students. There are two 6th graders that are always the first to bolt. The signal to leave is a flicker of the lights, so they stand in the doorway, in such a spot, to hold their position without losing sight of the switch. The last student to remain after the rest have left is waiting for me, sitting at the table by the door, with a half-finished snack in his hand. Of all the students, I spend the most time with him. Three times a day I assist with his “sensory diet”: a routine created by our Occupational Therapist. The first takes place at that time, during homeroom, and the others during the 2nd and 6th periods.

I then head to my room, 281 (a Tier Two, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), intervention room). This room is designed for rewarded and ad hoc breaks. I man this room with a colleague. No day is the same regarding the flow of this room. Some days are busy, some are slow, but we consistently have our most frequent visitors. On Mondays I teach a SEL “PEAR” class during the 3rd period, and on Fridays I teach one during the 4th.

Between my obligations I’m busy, with unpredictable breaks and rushes, until the end of the day. After the announcements, I head to the cafeteria where I run an afterschool supervision program for student athletes. This lasts from 2:15 until 4:00.

After I go home, workout, and eat, a day in my life ends the same as everyone else: by falling asleep.

What is your favorite part of serving at your host site?

Making a positive impact on the lives of the students.

What are your plans after your term of service ends?

I plan to serve in Manchester, and pursue my master’s degree, as part of the Manchester Excels program.