Last year, we at the Center for Community Engagement profiled leaders of a student-service organization here on our blog. This year, we are getting to know our community partners, leaders in Addison County and beyond with whom we partner in our work.
Our first profile is Zoe Kaslow ’15, the current executive director of Addison Central Teens, located in Middlebury.
What is the purpose of your organization and what does it look like on a day-to-day basis to meet that purpose in your role?
Addison Central Teens provides a Teen Center and after-school alternatives that are welcoming, safe and fun for all teenagers in the community. Teens have a place to hang out as well as opportunities to plan and participate in activities, special events and community service at the Teen Center and throughout the community. We are open every day after school from 3-6pm, and we have snacks, games, and programming!
Please share a brief story/moment/memory from your work that captures some of your favorite aspects of your job.
Serving students this summer from Middlebury Union Middle School, Middlebury Union High School, and other surrounding schools in the area, we offered five one-week sessions of summer camp this year with themes ranging from Outdoor Sports to Farm-to-Teen. Driving nearly 900 miles, stopping 7 times for creemees, and competing in 2 cooking challenges, ACT summer camp provided teens with an invaluable summer experience: tech-free hours, time outside, and new adventures. While the camp enjoyed old favorites such as paddle boating at Branbury State Park, hiking Snake Mountain, and milking cows at Shelburne Farms, they also participated in unfamiliar activities too. A highlight of our trip was a survivalist skills workshop in the Green Mountains with Josh Hardt of the Moosalamoo Center at Otter Valley Union High School. We built fires, ate cattails, and created shelters. Seeing teens take supported risks and learn about themselves through this activity was my favorite moment of summer camp!
When was a time you learned something surprising, either about yourself or the world around you, in your role?
As a graduate of Middlebury College, I have been surprised by how much I have learned about a community I lived in for four years. After graduating, I did two years of AmeriCorps service in Portland, OR before returning back to Middlebury. Since moving back I have learned so much about the nuances, challenges, and triumphs of Addison County, and I encourage students to get off campus and dive deeper into the larger community around them.
When was a time you felt challenged? How did you overcome that challenge?
I feel challenged everyday! I continue to learn about the teens, the community, and the work that we do. It’s never boring!
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in doing a job like yours?
Plan well, be flexible. Let your most shameless, silly side shine through, and the teens will love you for it!