Teen Teachers carry out tradition of Live Oak, bond in the process

Nikki Humble

Many moons ago you may recall going out to a place called Highland Lakes Conference Center with a bunch of interesting high schoolers that called themselves “Teen Teachers.” You may even recall doing some activities with your classmates and being very frustrated. You may now be putting it together that we’re talking about Live Oak — the three-day retreat for fifth graders from each of the six elementary schools. As most may know, the program has been around for almost 30 years.
For each of the six elementary schools, there are at least 10 Teen Teachers prepped and ready for three days of nonstop cheering and fun with as many as 15 kids in an individual group or squad. And with so many Teen Teachers, each elementary has its own three-day session starting on Nov. 3 and ending on the 20th. This makes for a busy month for all involved.
To prepare for this retreat, the students of Teen Teaching spend the first three months of school playing communication and teamwork games. They do this with teachers Jordan Johnston and Tres Ellis to ensure steady leadership skills before heading out with fifth graders.
“One of the activities we did [as just Teen Teachers] was Spider Web during class,” senior Sarah Shields explained. “Basically it’s all these ropes set up to make a spider web-looking thing and we have to get everyone through from one side to the other by either picking them up or crawling through it without touching the ropes.We do the same thing with the kids at Live Oak, so it really prepared us to work together and how to be motivating for them without being too harsh or telling them what to do.”
With activities like this, the Teen Teachers become a more solid unit, which leads to fun, lasting friendships.Considering that each group of Teen Teachers has no more than about 20 people, these activities create great opportunities become a tight team.
“I love kids, but I really liked the group of Teen Teachers [I was with] a lot better than last year,” senior Katie Kimery said. “Last year I didn’t really know that many people and this year I feel like I got to know a lot more people personally. I just felt more connected with everybody. I was forming relationships with every person rather than just knowing who they were by name — I got to know their personalities.”