Teen Mentors – The “Helping Hands” Between Students and Teachers
By Cindy Marie Jenkins
You’ve heard us talk about them. You’ve probably seen them: setting up for After ‘Cool, quietly talking with a younger artist, loudly joking with their friends – even working at one of the coveted paid jobs running our concessions or as part of the box office staff.
They are Team 24, our Teen Leadership Academy. They study acting with Debbie Devine once a week, mentor elementary and middle school kids, go on field trips across Los Angeles County…but most importantly, they act as the “helping hands” between After ‘Cool teachers and their students.
Our Summer ‘Cool Teen Mentors recently reflected on why they chose to spend two weeks of their vacation with us. After reading these responses, it’s clear that we are the privileged ones.
- Why did you choose to be a mentor this year?
“I chose to be a mentor this summer because 24th ST is my home. 24th ST has changed me as a person and has completely influenced me to be a better person. It has helped me come out of my shell. I want to learn different people’s opinions and have the chance to influence younger kids.” -Abraham
“After ‘Cool really helped me realize who I am and what I can do to become better.” -Luis
“Theatre is a way of acknowledging different aspects of life and opening different realities to an audience and I think this is an incredible privilege that I would like to take advantage of.” -Jennifer
“Being a mentor helps me develop the skills to interact and communicate with children of almost all ages. I also think that children are more aware of situations than we all give them credit for and they’re quite honest.” -Irene
“Working with other people gives me a sense of joy. Connecting with kids is something that I love doing because their views on topics and things aren’t biased, rather interesting… they just go at the concept.” -Miguel
“I would like to make an impact in younger individual lives and help them escape the conflicts and problems in their own time.” -Brianna
2. What do you hope the younger students get out of the summer?
“I hope that the younger kids, the students, leave this theatre with more confidence of who they are and what makes them special. To realize not only through theatre but through the positivity of other kids and mentors that they are special and should be proud of who they are and embrace themselves.” -Gerardo
“I hope the younger students obtain a sense of self-acceptance, confidence, and a realization that it’s okay to be themselves and break out of their shells. I want them to be fearless and to feel that they’re required to fix the mold that society has set out for them.” -Brianna
3. How will being a mentor help your personal goals?
“It helps me get away from any problems I have and use it in my dream job.” -Lesley
“I think that kids have the most amazing depth of imagination which leads to many opinions. I feel no matter how much I assist in teaching them, that they will teach me so much as well. Through what they have to say and through each of their special opinions, I believe it will open my eyes to view the world in many different ways and a personal goal of mine is to have new views.” -Gerardo
4. How did After Cool or Summer Cool influence why you applied to be a mentor?
“When I started out in After ‘Cool, the mentors were people who I would look up to. I would learn from them, hear their experiences, understand how to be a more mature person. Now that I’m old enough to be a mentor, I want to give these chances at learning opportunities that my mentors gave me.” -Fernando
“Being in After ‘Cool when I was 13 influenced my decision of applying to be a mentor. Having amazing mentors while I was in After ‘Cool made classes way more engaging than if there was just one director. The mentors I had influenced the way I worked in class, and I intend on doing the same.” -Rebecca
5. What’s your favorite memory from 24th ST?
“I think that my favorite memory from 24th ST is the first day that I was here. (I always tell everyone this story because it’s so ironic.) I actually didn’t even want to come, I didn’t even like theater but on the first day, I realized how cool and powerful theater can be, and so I acted and the next week I got “Artist of the Week.” -Abraham
We still have spots available for this year’s Leadership Academy. If you are or you know a high school student who can commit to 2 days a week 3:30-5:30 and is interested in getting community service hours working with our elementary and middle school students, plus a free theatre class with Artistic Director Debbie Devine, plus free field trips to plays, museums and concerts around Los Angeles, email email@example.com to learn how to apply. You can also find more info here.