Live Oak From a Teen Teacher’s Perspective


October brings many events to Westlake High School’s student body: Homecoming, ACL, Halloween… but to those in Westlake’s Teen Teaching program October is all about Live Oak. 

“Live Oak is basically where an elementary school in the Eanes district goes to the camp facility, Highland Lakes, to participate in team bonding,” 2nd year Teen Teacher, Annelise Cruikshank said. 

“It’s a chance for the 5th graders in our district to learn how to communicate with others and mature before going into Middle School”Annelise said

While many current Westlake students and Teen Teachers remember attending Live Oak back in their 5th grade year, Live Oak has changed—especially for those now helping run it today.

Live Oak this year was split into three days, whereas in previous years it had been divided into two. The first two days are composed of the 5th graders staying overnight with their classmates and Teen Teachers at the Highland Lakes facility. The kids participate in activities such as bonding activities, a bonfire, fishing, archery, and a dance party. There is a normal school day after the first two days of Live Oak followed by a day where the Teen Teachers go to the elementary school to reflect on the experience with the 5th graders. 

“On the last night of the camp we put on a bonfire with the kids, and they show off all the team chants they learned as well as recount their favorite parts of the first two days with everyone,” Annelise said. 

When asked about organizing Live Oak and her role in the program, Annelise compared her role to that of traditional schoolteachers.

 “I think my fellow Teen Teachers offer more of a trust foundation since they’re closer in age as well as are less intimidating to the kids,” Annelise said.

While Live Oak is definitely a memorable part of the kids 5th grade year in Eanes, it is just as important of an experience for the Teen Teachers.

“Seeing the different types of kids form friendships is my favorite part. It shows that when someone is put in certain situations, they can really be friends with anyone,” Annelise said.

Similarly like the lessons learned by the 5th graders, Annelise and her fellow Teen teachers gained a lot from the unique academic experience. 

“I had to talk to a lot of other Teen Teachers that I hadn’t talked to before,”Annelise said.

 Just like the relationships she helped facilitate with the 5th graders, Live Oak showed her new friendships that could be formed.