In a nutshell, describe your Teen Café program. What’s special or unique about it?
The Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson City Teen Science Cafe provides activities to members of the Club in grades 6 – 12 in Jefferson City, MO. Our Teen Center currently provides afterschool services to 31 teens afterschool from 4pm CST til 7pm. Our cafe is managed by a five – person teen leadership team. We meet weekly during their scheduled Club meal-time. Our cafes include multiple speakers rather than just one speaker, small group activities with each speaker and a snack.
What’s your background? How did you become involved with your Teen Café program?
My current position is STEM Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club. My degrees are in mathematics/mathematics education. I have taught mathematics at the secondary and post-secondary levels since ’93, authored/managed STEM workforce development grants and afterschool or summer STEM camps.
What organization provides a home for your Teen Café program? How do you see your program fitting with that organization’s mission?
The Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson City houses the cafe. The cafe supports similar mission focus areas, as the cafe helps members learn about careers, expands their academic and social skill set and allows students to participate in leadership development activities/training.
What’s your biggest stumbling block as your program has developed?
The biggest stumbling block has been getting by-in from the teens. I asked the leadership team to “talk up” the events, create flyers and share them with peers, and make announcements during other Club activities. We also made sure to give out surveys and ask teens about their interest
What achievement are you most proud of with your Teen Café program?
I am very proud of how the Teen Leadership Team has taken pride in making the Cafe’s meaningful. The Team is now requesting that we host one program almost each week. I am excited that they are excited about taking charge. questions.
What has been your favorite café and why?
We have only had two events, but both have been a great experience for the teens. I really like the format where we have a brief speaker section where they speak to the entire group and then split off into small groups so the students can ask more personal questions and gather information.
What is one aspiration you have for your Teen Café program and how will you manifest it?
1. I really want this program to expand to a once-a-week activity. 2. I would like for the program to include activities outside of the building where students can go and visit other locations and see career people in action.
Do you have any advice for those just starting, re-starting, or sustaining their own Teen Café program?
Always give out a survey immediately after each program, let the leadership team help you assess the program and plan the upcoming events based on the collected data.