Teen Teaching adviser Jordan Johnston answers questions

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Jordan Johnston, Teen Teaching adviser of seven years, and ’97 graduate, has taken a solo role in the program after working with Tres Ellis for six years. The program has been around for 34 years, and was initially started by Karen and Jim McGill in 1985. Teen Teaching was created to encourage positive role models within the community. The students interact with elementary through 8th grade students throughout their time in the program. The annual service projects Pedernales, which started in 1986, and Live Oak, which has been a tradition since the mid ’80s. Johnston, a Westlake grad, describes what sparked his interest in teaching Teen Teaching, even though he was not a part of the program himself in his Westlake years. In this Q&A style interview, Johnston, informally known as JJ to his students, opens up about the ins and outs of Teen Teaching.

What was it like going from a student at Westlake to an adviser?
Interesting, Westlake has changed quite a bit since I was here. It gives you a different perspective.

What’s the most rewarding thing about advising Teen Teaching?
Seeing kids grow within themselves and stretch themselves to be leaders and work with others.

How have other teachers done to prepare you for your job as a solo Teen Teaching teacher?
Coach Ellis and I had a really great working relationship. He was a solid guy that had really good ideas and we just really worked well together. Also, Mitch Lasseter really laid the groundwork for the program that it is today. If it wasn’t for Mitch I don’t think teen teaching would be what it is.

How is your relationship with past Teen Teaching advisers?
Really good! We all talk every so often and keep in touch.

What impact do you hope to have on your students?
I hope they can see themselves as leaders and want to serve others. Also, I hope they know that they are capable of doing great things.

What impact do you hope your students have on their peers?
That serving others is a good thing, and they can be a role model and a good example of a leader.

How is your relationship with students in Teen Teaching compared to other subjects you teach?
It’s different because we get to talk about a lot more real life topics, and go in-depth with them. Also, I get to see my students in a different light because of the activities we do and the way the class is structured.

What is your favorite unit in Teen Teaching?
I really enjoy prepping the kids for Live Oak.

What is your favorite activity to facilitate in class?
Spider web or chicken plucker!

Do you enjoy Live Oak or Pedernales more?
Probably Live Oak because it’s spread out and there’s more [trips], but Pedernales is really fun too… that’s tough.

What is the best part about your job?
Seeing kids grow and watching them develop into better people.

What made you want to direct this program?
There’s no other teaching job like it and I get to do really fun things at school and out of school. I also get to work with some really cool kids.

What was it like not being in teen teaching as a student then becoming the adviser of the program?
I think it was good because I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what it used to be like and I can make it my own version of Teen Teaching.

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