Teens with a Future gets new director
Scott Jackson has big plans for the teens of Douglas County.
As the new director of Teens With a Future, Jackson has energy and enthusiasm to inspire the Douglas County teen-agers he will be working with through this relatively young program.
Teens With a Future, in existence since February 1995, is a division of the non-profit Partnership of Community Resources. Jackson replaces Margie Mangiapelo, who resigned last fall to take a position with the Washoe Tribe.
The belief of Teens With a Future is that “every teen-ager deserves the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills they will need to become a valued, successful member of their community.”
In exchange for school credit, students who participate in the program perform community service in various volunteer venues. For 100 hours of community service, a student can receive one-half credit toward high school graduation.
Michael Caughlan, a counselor at Douglas High School who helps coordinate the school with the Teens With a Future program, said both the community and the teens benefit from the interaction.
“Research has shown that involvement in the community is one of the most effective ways of turning around at-risk students,” he said. “It’s important the community know that by getting these kids out and working within the system, it really does help to get them back on track.”
Many of the participants in the program are referred through the office of juvenile probation, and some are those who need credits to graduate, but all teen-age students in middle or high school are welcome, Jackson said, adding that enrollment in school isn’t necessarily a requirement.
“Some kids get involved just because it’s a good thing to volunteer,” he said. “We do like to have a good mix of students.”
Volunteer projects for the students vary, and Jackson said he welcomes anyone from the community to come forth with suggestions for services or jobs they might want to see the teens address.
“We have kids going to Cottonwood Care Center to do makeovers, play cards and whatever they want us to do,” Jackson said. “We also work with Douglas County Mental Health – going to help people move, plus we’re contacting the Tahoe Rim Trail group and the Job’s Peak Trail to offer our services,” he said.
Last year, students from Teens With a Future volunteered during the New Year’s flood, sandbagging and helping with cleanup. The teens also worked with the City of Refuge, March of Dimes, Nevada Aids Project, the Carson Valley Community Food Closet and other agencies.
Jackson said he hopes to form an “emergency action committee” of teens – ready to jump into action whenever the need arises.
“We can also go and shovel people out when they’re snowed in,” he said.
Jackson, 29, grew up on the East Coast and found his way west to Santa Cruz 10 years ago. Always involved with kids in some way, from camp counselor as a teen to working in hands-on environmental education with the YMCA in Santa Cruz, Jackson said he feels he has finally found his niche in working with teens.
“While I was at the YMCA, I ran a leadership development program for teens and really enjoyed that,” he said. “It was there that I discovered that I really liked teen-agers and worked well with them.”
Having graduated from a large high school outside of Boston, Jackson said he realizes that often schools don’t address the needs of the wide variety of ways that individual students learn.
“Many times in our school systems, kids slip through the cracks, and realizing that kids learn differently is something that the schools sometimes miss,” he said, adding that while he was a bright child, he had his own struggles in school.
“Looking back, I think I’m a self-diagnosed ADD (attention deficit disorder) kid myself,” he said. “For me, hands-on learning was more effective.”
Realizing his interest in working further with teen-agers, Jackson began to search the Internet for jobs with teens, and saw the vacancy at Teens With a Future.
“We have always loved Tahoe and are happy to come to the area,” he said.
Scott and his wife, Diane, have a 3-month-old daughter, Kaitlyn and reside at South Lake Tahoe.
Jackson, said he would like to see teens from the schools at the Lake – Whittell High School and Kingsbury Middle School – become involved in the program. In order to bridge the gap between Lake and Valley, he added that Teens With a Future needs a vehicle of some sort, preferably a van, to transport participants safely to and from their projects.
“We are willing to share a vehicle or whatever it takes,” he said. In the past, transportation has ben provided by parents and volunteers.
For teens, parents and community members wanting to meet Jackson and hear more about the program for the upcoming year, Teens With a Future will be hosting an open house on Tuesday, Jan. 20 and Thursday, Jan 22, from 3 to 6 p.m. both days.
“I want the kids to come in and meet me and tell me what kinds of things they want to see us do with the program,” he said. “I am a big believer in empowering teens and giving them leadership goals,” he said.
In addition to the volunteer projects throughout the year, Jackson said he will be holding workshops on goal-setting and leadership development.
The office of Teens With a Future is located at 1624 Library Lane, Suite C in Minden, across from the Douglas County Library. Phone 782-8611 for more information.