Several students at Fort Campbell High School will receive a different kind of education starting later this month, as Army Family Team Building breathes life into its teen pilot program. The program consists of a series of workshops designed to instill adolescents with skills as they cope with deployments and simultaneously prepare for adulthood.
The workshops, beginning Oct. 24, will be divided into three different modules: personal development, team development, and leadership skills.
“Sometimes they get left behind,” AFTB Program Coordinator Jessica Leonard said of adolescents. “Teenagers are a very hard group to know how to talk to and relate to.”
It is a fun challenge to reach them on their level, she said.
AFTB will tweak and alter its pre-existing adult-oriented classes to suit the needs of a younger audience. The classes will be held every other Wednesday through Dec. 12. The modules will be attended by the student council, representative officers from each class, and whoever else wants to volunteer.
They will cover topics such as stress management, self-esteem, exploring personal traits, team dynamics, communication, group conflict management, and the volunteer experience. The idea, Leonard said, is to deviate from the typical lecture format to keep the students interested.
The first part of the program will cover various dynamics of the Army, including military acronyms, customs and traditions, and the expectations and impact of the current mission.
“When you know a little more about the Army and why it works, it gives you a greater sense of empowerment, a sense of having a little bit of control back in your life,” Leonard said. Knowing the available resources and personal rights that come with being a part of the military family makes things a lot easier, she said.
Many of these students have one and sometime two parents who are deploying for a third or fourth time.
Leonard’s ultimate goal for the program is to involve students to the point where they are willing and able to instruct similar classes on their own, giving the program a greater sense of autonomy and expanding the boundaries of peer-to-peer interaction within the schools.
David Witte, principal for Fort Campbell High School, has a vision of getting all of his students involved with the school’s everyday processes, and the AFTB teen program synchronizes with that goal.
Every kid needs to have something he can try to hook onto, Witte said, mentioning athletes and even the more outgoing students who naturally submerge themselves in extracurricular activity. “This may be another avenue for that kid who doesn’t know what to grab onto.”
The ultimate goal is to get teens teaching teens about AFTB, he said.
“The bottom line is ownership,” Witte said of getting students involved.
Kids are more likely to buy into a program, he said, if they are able to play a larger roll in the coordination and decision process and have a higher level of involvement.
Whether a student is dealing with deployed parents or not, school is a constant in their lives, which makes their involvement and experience all the more important, Witte said.
“This is another way we can link the school into the community,” Witte said of the program. “We’re all dealing with the same kids … if we work together we can make our resources go a lot further.”
If any parents would like to see the program in their high school, Leonard encourages them to communicate with the principals.
“FCHS will be the pilot,” Leonard said of the program’s first run. “So we’re hopefully going to work out any kinks and scheduling conflicts.”
AFTB hopes to travel with the program, taking it to other high schools throughout the community, Leonard said, mentioning that additional schools and even parents have already expressed interest in participating.
“They’re our future,” Leonard said of the high school students. “They’re our future Soldiers, parents, educators and leaders.”