Where Teens, Leadership, & Team Building Meet

23, February 2017

Earlier this year we welcomed students from 17 area high schools to spend eight weeks exploring museum work with us in our Teens Make History Academy. So far the teens have met with and learned from a curator, marketers, a conservator, librarians, archivists, and members of our education department. Each week they’ve taken what they’ve learned and put it to the test via museum challenges, small-scale projects that exemplify what museum professionals do every day. Academy participants have designed exhibits connecting seemingly different objects brought from home, marketed museum programs, conducted personal research at our Library and Research Center, and crafted a short play based on historical source material.

Color photo of TMH Academy students participating in a museum challengeSo you wanna be a curator? Create a tabletop exhibit that connects special objects from home.

Through team-building and reflection activities, our Academy students also develop general professional skills such as responsibility, cooperation, and problem solving—skills they’ll need in whatever career field they ultimately pursue. Because so many of our activities are team based, we consistently hear Academy students comment on how they've grown as team players and leaders. But don't just take our word for it. Here are a few things our 2017 Academy participants recently shared when asked to reflect on their experiences and growth these past few weeks:

“I feel that I’ve grown by being more comfortable with speaking in groups and being a leader for small groups.”—Junior, Hazelwood West

“I feel like I’ve grown more creative when it comes to solving challenges. With the challenges, I had to think outside the box and be creative and make sure the task is complete.”—Freshman, DeSmet Jesuit

“I love how I’ve gotten to learn all the different jobs there are. I’ve learned that the History Museum is more than just reading.”—Senior, Belleville West

Color photo of TMH Academy students getting private tour of our "Route 66" exhibitCurator Sharon Smith gives TMH Academy students a private look at our Route 66 exhibit.

“Throughout my time at the Academy, I have become more of a leader and an idea man.”—Sophomore, Pattonville

“I really enjoy the daily recap because it allows me to see what good and bad I am doing—that way I can try to stop doing something or continue doing something.”—Sophomore, Cor Jesu

“For me, I have learned about things I would never have an interest in. For example, I never thought I would enjoy building exhibits, but I really enjoyed it and was proud of our final exhibit.”—Sophomore, Homeschool

Color photo of two TMH Academy students high-fiving each otherTMH Academy students learn how to work as a team—and celebrate accordingly.

In the coming weeks, the teens will complete their final museum challenge: a capstone project that demonstrates their new understanding and strengths in two of the departments they’ve studied. Following the Academy, those who’ve regularly attended and participated will be eligible to apply for one of our paid, long-term apprenticeships in Teens Make History.

The TMH Academy is truly an exciting time to witness the creativity and leadership abilities of St. Louis high school students. We look forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish in the future as they tackle far bigger issues than our museum challenges!

—Ellen Kuhn, Teen and Adult Interpretive Programs Coordinator

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