St Louis, MO, USA — Representatives from the Missouri History Museum shared the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama as they accepted the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on behalf of the Museum’s Teens Make History program.Elizabeth Pickard, director of interpretive programs for the Missouri History Museum, and Amesha Payne, a current Teens Make History student and senior at Carnahan High School, represented the program at the White House ceremony on Monday, November 10, 2014. Teens Make History was one of 12 after-school programs chosen from across the country for this prestigious honor.
The award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The awardees—chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists—are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.
First presented in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards are presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
“Receiving this honor from the First Lady means so much to all those who have worked so hard on the Teens Make History program,” said Pickard, who founded Teens Make History in 2007. “We began this program with the desire to make a lasting impact in a kid’s life beyond the school hours, particularly for at-risk youth. We wanted to bring together young people from across the region and with diverse backgrounds, and challenges them to rise above their expectations for themselves.”
The Missouri History Museum’s Teens Make History (TMH) is a work-based learning program that encourages high school students in their sophomore, junior or senior year to develop key professional skills, build self-confidence, and explore the complexities of history. Students first complete the TMH Academy, an eight-week introductory museum studies workshop, before they may apply for one of the paid, long-term apprenticeships in TMH. Apprentices complete real work projects as a member of either the TMH Players—the group that researches, writes, and performs plays—or the TMH Exhibitors—a group that conducts exhibition projects, including oral history interviews. Through their projects, teens learn skills such as accountability, teamwork, time management, written and spoken communication skills, and responsibility—skills that the U.S. Department of Labor has identified as necessary to workplace success.