High school students connect with kids at KTC


Hannah Crooks

Senior Sam Wilkinson pushes two girls on the swings at the Lawson Elementary School playground during her shift at Kids/Teen Connection (KTC). Wilkinson has been working at KTC since September 2014 and thoroughly enjoys building relationships with the kids she works with.

Hannah Crooks, Staff Writer

Every day, senior Sam Wilkinson faces new adventures in her job at Kids/Teen Connection (KTC) at Lawson Elementary School. “It’s just so funny because the kids are so honest,” Wilkinson said. “When I dyed my hair, one of the little girls told me she didn’t like it. I said, ‘If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all, remember?’ And she was like, ‘I know, it’s just going to be so hard to get used to.’ It was so funny.”

KTC is a before school, after school and summer program in the elementary schools provided so kids can stay at school if their parents can not pick them up after school or if they do not live in an area where the bus will drive them. There, kids are under the watchful eye of workers and can play games, make crafts or play outside.

A typical day after school at KTC starts with a snack for the kids. If the weather allows, afterwards everyone heads outside to play on the playground. On a rainy or cold day, the kids stay inside and can play games in the gym such as dodgeball, or they can play board games in the cafeteria until their parents arrive.

Senior Emily Vanwiel works at KTC at Wallace Elementary School, and she enjoys working with the younger kids. “It’s really cute on Valentines Day, they have their little parties and they bring all their boxes and they’re so proud of them,” VanWiel said. “They’re like ‘Miss Emily, look at the box I made, isn’t it cool?’ And it’s two pieces of paper glued to a box, but it’s so cute.”

Wilkinson and VanWiel work after school every day from 3:00 to 5:45 p.m. Both wish to continue working at KTC throughout the summer. Wilkinson will be working at a daycare over the summer as well. She plans to be an elementary school teacher, specifically for kindergarten through second grade. “I like the relationships you build,” Wilkinson said. “Since I want to be an elementary teacher, it’s really cool to see what kind of things that they learn and know in each grade because I hardly remember. It’s really fun to see them interact with each other too.”

About 40% of KTC staff is made up of high school students, the Lawson on-site coordinator Rob Wisniewski said. There are a few reasons behind this hefty percentage. “Most high school students who work at KTC do not have much, if any, prior work experience,” Wisniewski said. “KTC offers a fun and relaxed atmosphere for high school students to gain work experience among making a difference in the lives of numerous students.” He also believes that high school students can serve as great role models for younger kids.

Wilkinson says the environment is perfect for a teenager to work. “It’s the best job you could probably get as a high (school student),” she said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re working, it just feels like you’re hanging out with a bunch of really awesome kids.”