Junior Docent Program
The Junior Docent Program is an award-winning, after-school youth development program that serves students (Grades 9–12) from public high schools throughout Yonkers.
What is the Junior Docent Program?
The Junior Docent Program is an award-winning, after-school youth development program that serves students (grades 9–12) from public high schools throughout Yonkers. Extending over four years, the Program expands students’ knowledge of art, science, and history while strengthening skills in communication, critical thinking, and leadership. The Program trains them to become leaders, thinkers, professionals, and contributing members of their communities. Peer mentorship and a sense of camaraderie among students are hallmarks of the experience.
One of the core components of the Program is an extensive College Readiness Series, guiding the teens through SAT/ACTs, college visits, interview preparation, the application process, financial literacy for the entire family, and more. Since its inception in 1995, the Junior Docent Program has graduated more than 400 young adults; 100% of Junior Docents who completed the Program have been accepted to college. Graduates of the Program have gone on to colleges such as Binghamton University, Brown University, Columbia University, Delaware State University, Hunter College, New York University, Pratt Institute, University of Connecticut, and many more.
The Junior Docent Program is a nationally-recognized model for teen programming. In 2008, the Program was recognized by The White House with the Coming Up Taller Award, which supports outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people. The Program is central to the mission of the Hudson River Museum. We are inspired by these young adults each and every day; they add diverse perspectives, creativity, and spirit to the Museum.
The Junior Docent Program is generously sponsored, in part, by the City of Yonkers, Department of Planning and Development, through a Community Development Block Grant; St. Faith’s House Foundation; Wells Fargo; Westchester County Youth Bureau; and Sterling National Bank.
What Do Junior Docents Do?
Junior Docents attend weekly training sessions led by the Manager of Youth and Family Programs. In these sessions, they learn about the Museum’s permanent collection, and through our environmental teaching gallery and Planetarium, they learn science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEM and STEAM) concepts. Participants work with curators, educators, artists, scientists, and leading professionals in many fields, take trips to other museums in connection with current HRM exhibits, themes, and collections, and use Museum resources to create tours and facilitate art- and science-based projects and demonstrations for peers and families.
Junior Docents are required to work one weekend per month. They lead gallery tours; science, technology, engineering and math demonstrations; Family Studio workshops; and other hands-on activities that enhance the visitor experience. They also create tours and programs for themselves and their peers and mentor younger docents. After completing one full year of the Program, following evaluation, participants qualify to be paid for their work. Finally, Junior Docents who are seniors in high school may be elected to an Advisory Board that meets monthly to shape the future of the Program.
Meet the Junior Docents
Meet the 2018–2019 Junior Docents and some of our alumni here.
Freshmen and sophomores attending a Yonkers Public High School are eligible to apply. Academic merit is not a consideration for eligibility.
The Hudson River Museum offers a wide variety of public programs for all ages, including teens. Learn more about our events and programs on our calendar.
The Hudson River Museum is a multidisciplinary institution, and because of this, we are able to explore an array of topics from astronomy to history, environmental science, and art.
In a typical meeting, Junior Docents arrive at the HRM after school to have a snack and respond to prompts on the board. After a group discussion on a specific topic, Junior Docents play a game or participate in an activity. They are often trained by a professional on topics such as environmental science, pop-art, and Victorian history. Trainings are engaging, hands-on, thought-provoking, and informative.
After a Junior Docent has completed their first year in the Program, they are eligible to do a Payroll Evaluation Tour. If they pass, they can be paid for their time working at the Museum on the weekends. Other opportunities include joining the Junior Docent Advisory Board, a leadership team that works on program activities, plans events, and assists with recruitment; the Summer Camp Manager—a paid supervisory position (graduating seniors only); Summer Camp instructors; and Discussion Facilitators, who moderate conversations about a topics related to the Museum.
The Junior Docent Program hosts a number of Parent Nights during the school year to help parents learn about the many facets of the college application and financial aid process. Sessions focus on topics such as financial education, budgeting, paying for college, and college planning for all families. All parents are invited to join in on college and university visits.
The Junior Docent Program has received numerous awards, and is honored to be nationally and locally recognized for its service to Yonkers youth.
2017–Induction into the Roosevelt High School’s Wall of Fame
2015–Yonkers’ Mayor Mike Spano Proclamation of “Junior Docent Day” on June 25, celebrating the 20th year of the Program
2007–The White House Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities—in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services
Individual Junior Docents have also been recognized with numerous honors, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Youth Award from the African American Men of Westchester and Westchester County’s Milly Kibrick Youth Service Award, which heralds young men and women who actively demonstrate leadership in community service.