Last Sunday, parents and their anxious teens journeyed to Wyman’s main campus to participate in a series of group and individual interviews for Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program. Every spring, Wyman invites community partners—consisting of specific school districts and agencies—to nominate high-potential 7th graders for TLP. The interviews are the final step in the application process and are not meant to be intimidating; instead, they are simply conducted to determine if the program is a good fit for the teen.
Being relatively new to Wyman, I had never experienced the TLP interview process. The teens I generally interact with are either recent graduates of TLP or high school students. Sunday’s afternoon of interviews quickly acquainted me with an entirely new category of teens. These participants were all very young and incredibly nervous; from wringing hands to shuffling feet, every move they made seem to indicate their uncertainty.
Focused on prompting the teens to be themselves, the facilitators acknowledged their nerves but did not allow them to dominate the afternoon. Their engaging facilitation was successful; thirty minutes into the group interviews, teens were proudly announcing their school’s best sports team, defining qualities of success, and working together in various challenge course activities.
While the teens were interviewed, the parents had the opportunity to ask any and every question about the Teen Leadership Program. Tim Kjellesvik, the Director of TLP, fielded each question with respect, knowledge, and a desire to accurately explain the program. At times, he would refer to his “panel of experts”, a selection of current TLP teens that were able to provide a personal perspective on the experience.
From the group interviews to the final Q&As, TLP’s interview sessions are intricate and well-executed processes, dependent on excellent planning and the dedication of staff members. The sessions allowed me to witness TLP teens in a way I never have before: as young, uncertain 7th graders, their TLP journey just beginning. In a few years I will know them as scholars and leaders, committed to pursuing positive change in their communities.