Mrs. Laura Bush presented the awards in the East Room of the White House on January 28, 2008. She said: “In Yonkers, participants in the Hudson River Museum’s Junior Docent program gain valuable first job experience—and have so much fun that they stay in the program for an average of five years. So far, all of the Junior Docents who’ve stayed in through senior year of high school have gone on to college.”
(YONKERS, NY) The Hudson River Museum’s Junior Docent Program, which provides educational after-school and weekend programs, training and work opportunities for Yonkers teens, is being nationally recognized as one of 18 youth arts and humanities programs to receive the prestigious 2007 Coming Up Taller Award. The Hudson River Museum will send Rebecca Kraus, Manager of Youth and Family Programs, and Stephy Sunny, a 5th year Junior Docent to Washington D.C. for a Monday, January 28 ceremony in the East Room of the White House, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. Mrs. Laura Bush will present the awards.
Coming Up Taller is an initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The President’s Committee partners with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to administer the program, which was founded in 1998.
The Coming Up Taller Awards recognize and support outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, and provide them with new learning opportunities and a chance to contribute to their communities. The awards also highlight the contributions that historians, scholars, librarians and visual and performing arts make to families and communities by mentoring children. More than 250 nominations were received by the program in 2007.
The Junior Docent Program, launched in 1995, is a collaboration between the Hudson River Museum and the Yonkers Public School District. Now serving nearly 80 middle and high school students, the program meets an urgent need for after-school activities for teens in Yonkers through its partnership with neighboring schools.
“While this program is based on a core of creative activities it is more about developing important skills, such as taking responsibility for their actions, and being accountable. Through their work at the Museum they learn interpersonal and job readiness skills like interviewing and researching, that help them through their school years and help them make decisions about going to college,” said Michael Botwinick, the Museum’s Director. “We’re very proud of this program, but prouder still of what the participants are able to accomplish—with us and after they have graduated from the program. The Junior Docent Program helps to shape their decisions and has an impact on their lives.”
To prepare for their docent roles, students undergo an ongoing intensive training process where they learn about the Museum’s exhibitions, which focus on the art, history, and natural environment of the region. Once trained, Junior Docents lead weekend tours, help run family-oriented hands-on workshops and conduct the Museum’s summer camp programs.
“This program is a source of great pride for these students. It gives them a sense of accomplishment as they share what they’ve learned with the public,” notes Rebecca Kraus, Manager of Youth and Family Programs. “Even more, Junior Docents develop a sense of place and gain the self-confidence, maturity and poise required to be leaders in their community.”
Participants stay in the program an average of five years, and spend more than 750 hours in arts, humanities, and science based activities. The bonds that form among the program’s diverse participants help to break down stereotypes, foster tolerance, and create a positive peer group, Kraus points out. Peer-to-peer mentoring is an important part of the program. And to date, all participants who have stayed in the program through their senior year have gone on to college.
The Hudson River Museum is a multi-disciplinary cultural complex that draws its identity from its site on the banks of the Hudson River, and seeks to broaden the horizons of all its visitors. It engages in the presentation of exhibitions, programs, teaching initiatives, research, collecting, preservation, and conservation – a wide range of activities that interpret its collections, interests and communities. The Junior Docent Program is made possible, in part, through support from the Westchester County Youth Bureau; The Frog Rock Foundation; the City of Yonkers, Department of Planning and Development, through a Community Development Block Grant; and the St. Faith's House Foundation.
“Arts and humanities activities have a wonderful way of enabling young people to discover their unique talents and interests while forging a path to success in school and life,” said Adair Margo, Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “The Junior Docent program is especially notable for teaching students the responsibility, focus and self-confidence necessary for success in their personal and academic lives.”
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation, and helps incorporate the humanities and the arts into White House objectives. The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Because democracy demands wisdom, the National Endowment for the Humanities serves and strengthens our Republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent federal grant making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners.
For more information please visit the following Web sites:
Hudson River Museum: www.hrm.org
Coming Up Taller: www.cominguptaller.org
President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities: www.pcah.gov
National Endowment for the Arts: www.arts.gov
National Endowment for the Humanities: www.neh.gov
Institute of Museum and Library Services: www.imls.gov
The Hudson River Museum is located at 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers NY. Minutes from the Saw Mill River Parkway, exit 9, north or southbound. Information and directions: 914.963.4550 and www.hrm.org. Wed - Sun 12- 5 pm. Fridays 12-8 pm. Admission: Adults $5; Seniors 62 & older and youth 5-16 $3. Fridays 5 to 8 pm free.
The largest cultural institution in Westchester County, the Hudson River Museum is a multi-disciplinary complex that draws its identity from its site on the banks of the Hudson River, and seeks to broaden the cultural horizons of all its visitors. It engages in the presentation of exhibitions, programs, teaching initiatives, research, collection, preservation, and conservation – a wide range of activities that interpret its collections, interests and communities.