Working with the Next Generation

Kennedy students taking part in the Teaching Academy zoo trip

by Kevin Almazan (Staff Writer) – 5/14/15

Kennedy students doing a fun activity with the kids of Danube Elementary
Kennedy students doing a fun activity with the kids of Danube Elementary

The students of John F. Kennedy High School recently went to the Los Angeles Zoo on April 21, 2015 as part of the Teaching Academy. They got a chance to work with kids by bringing kindergartners and 1st graders from Danube Elementary to teach kids about the animals. Many of these students shared their experience of what it’s like to engage a child one-on-one in a learning experience.

Every year, students from Jennifer Green’s Teaching Academy class plan out a trip to go to the Los Angeles Zoo for a chance to work with grade schoolers. The high schoolers do fun activities with the kids, as well as act as their tour guide throughout the entire trip.

There are a good number of these students who have been doing this for two or more years. Senior Anthony Points is such a student; he says, “It’s so much fun working with those kids. You have no idea. It’s not something people my age get to do every day. I enjoy every minute of it because a child’s spirit and energy is so refreshing, and it kind of makes me want to be a kid again.”

Forty of the one-hundred-and-fifty students who went in this trip are volunteers who visit Danube Elementary on a weekly basis. Therefore, most of these scholars got to go with the class that they usually help out, making the event more personal and exciting for the younglings.

Mrs. Green believes this is wonderful experience for the kids. Both high school and elementary kids have a memorable time here, and it leaves “a huge impact on both sides.”

She says that her teaching class plans this whole trip. Ms. Green notes that it is not an easy thing to do as she has needed to do all the planning herself in past times. “It’s a very tough and frustrating thing to do, but it’s all about the kids, and that’s why we have it every year.”

There are a variety of skills that an individual can obtain or improve from this event according to Alyssa Barragan, who is also secretary of Teaching Academy. She commented that working with kids can be “overwhelming and stressful” because it’s difficult to keep track of everyone.

What really invigorated Barragan was the energy that these kids had. She was surprised by how smart they were. Even though she had a hard time with them in terms of keeping in line, Barragan learned how to contain their wild nature.

Barragan also stated that, “I now have a better grasp of the child mind as well as their social behavior.” She understands what it could be like to have kids, but she has always loved kids which is why she was drawn into the idea of working with them.

The Teaching Academy is a foundation for future educators, but people who love to work with children can have the opportunity to do so with the programs and activities available within the academy.

Patience is a virtue. It can be difficult for some and easy for others. Junior Andrea Escobar believes that these young individuals can teach someone a thing or two about being patient. Escobar said that she definitely learned how to be lenient and tolerant.

“They’re just always running around and sometimes don’t listen to what you tell them to do right at that instant you say it, but you really just need to give them a ton of time because I’m sure a lot of us were difficult like that in their day.”

Kennedy students had the chance to act as teachers or babysitters, but all in all, these individuals learned more than just about the animals at the zoo. They learned how to be patient with the youth and how to care for and understand them.

This zoo trip had impacting results for both ends. The older kids definitely had a day to remember and the little ones also enjoyed their field trip as one of the 1st graders said, “You guys gave us a great day.”