Empowering youth-adult relationships are the foundation for young people to gain self-esteem, succeed in school and envision opportunities for themselves that they hadn’t before. Through these relationships, many diverse youth-serving organizations are meeting the needs of young people and strengthening their communities. This story is a part of our Stand and Be Counted series which recognizes and celebrates these relationships.
Carla Cauldron is the Program Director of Teens in Print newspaper, but first became involved with the program when she was a 10th grader in high school. As a student writer, Carla had a great support system in the program director at the time, Kelly Knopf-Goldner. “Because I was so heavily involved in the newspaper and proved myself to be a responsible reporter, I became her go to writer and I loved that,” Carla said. “Kelly and I now work together on the WriteBoston staff. It's funny and weird how now as an adult I get to share workspace with her.”
Using Journalism as Tool of Empowerment:
“The best part of my job is working with the students,” Carla said, having an understanding of what it is like to be a student writer and what their needs might be. She creates a relationship with each student writer and helps them use journalism to gain skills such as initiating conversations with adults, asking tough questions, and thinking critically. “Teens in Print is more than just a publication. Through the lens of journalism, our program also provides academic enrichment, an opportunity for career exploration and social and emotional development,” Carla said.
Developing Youth Voice:
Clinton Nguyen, in his third year as staff, first got involved with the program because it was a platform for students to use their voices. Students have covered topics ranging from memes to mortality to net neutrality. “Most people see that teens have an opinion on things, but they don’t take us seriously,” Elebetel Assefa said, adding that being published makes her voice and opinion feel more credible.
Challenging Personal Growth:
Carla enforces a safe and welcoming space for students to share their ideas and provides them with resources to expand and develop them. She connects with each student individually and knows their personal needs and interests and is able to challenge their growth. “The best part about Carla is that she makes you feel like you have a great idea and works with you until it actually becomes a great idea,” Jacob Downey said.
A Trusted Adult:
Through the relationships she forms with each student, Carla becomes a trusted adult for them to seek support and guidance. Elebetel shared that she felt close with Carla and felt comfortable to ask for help whenever she needs it, knowing Carla will be there to respond. At the end of the school year, graduating student writers invite Carla to their high school graduation from all across Boston. “I feel like an honorary adult they've let into their safe space - it's a very unique experience. Being with them, among their high energy and positive vibes, it gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
Teens in Print is a program launched by WriteBoston and The Boston Globe in 2004. It is the only citywide youth newspaper written by and for Boston public high school students. Staff writers meet once a week to publish their work, engage their voices, and make friends with other teens. For more information on TiP or read their latest issue, visit www.bostontip.com.