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Calling it “peer leading in its purest form” Marsha Duncan described the Teen Leadership Program which her office and others in the LaRue County School District sponsor.
Twelve LaRue County High School seniors, members of the school’s Teens Leading Kids Club, pass on the training they’ve received in several areas to elementary and middle school children as part of what Duncan, who coordinates the district’s Youth Service Center, says may be unique in this area of the state.
“We’ve had schools in other counties contact us about sending our teams there to help their students,” Duncan said.
All of the TLK members are identified as gifted/talented. The elementary and middle school students who attend their workshops are also G/T identified.
“Vicki Devers with community education, Karyn Brey, gifted talented coordinator, Kristi Wright, LCHS guidance counselor, and I invited all gifted and talented students to a summer workshop two years ago when this year’s seniors were incoming juniors,” said Duncan.
She and her colleagues taught the 14 who responded different aspects of leadership so that they could, in turn, apply that knowledge while leading elementary and middle school student workshops.
Workshop subjects included leadership, communications, diversity and personality styles.
One of the teen leaders, Hannah Canter, said the seniors come up with ideas for activities that they hope will be fun as well as instructive for those they teach at the elementary and middle schools.
“We might have the students form their idea of a leader from pipe cleaners, and we will intentionally make the feet big, emphasizing that a leader needs a strong foundation or base of knowledge,” Canter said. “In another activity, we might have them draw a face with big lips to show the importance of communication.”
Duncan, whose office funds the materials, explained how in a teamwork activity elementary students saw how many people they could position on a two-by-two-foot board.
“They were hanging on and holding each other, doing everything they could to keep someone from falling off the platform,” she said.
Student to student
Duncan believes one advantage of the program is the fact that it’s students teaching students.
“These elementary and middle schoolers appear to be much more attentive to what these teens have to say to them than if they were adults,” she said. “Many of them will ask, after a workshop, if they can lead the workshops when they reach high school.”
Canter added that the activities provide a fun way of learning, both for the teens and the younger students.
“I think we enjoy the activities as much as they do,” she said. “We’ve also drawn closer as a group by working together.”
Through a continuing workshop program each summer for incoming juniors, Duncan believes the training and instructing the TLK students attain their last two years of high school will benefit them when they enter the job force.
“The program is also a good confidence builder which they’ll be able to utilize as they become leaders in their career fields,” she said.
Members include Christian Seymour, Caleb Phelps, Tori Banks, Betsy Durham, Autumn Kidd, Hannah Canter, Melanie Richmond, Aletha Tharp, Allie Perkins, Shanoa Milby, Ashley Stearman and Chelsie Morrison.