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7 Reasons Your Teen Should Join the Junior Docent Program



Seven is a cardinal number expressing amount. Seven is a prime number, divisible only by one and itself. Seven is the number of days in a week, the number of major bridges to cross in the city of Jacksonville. It is seven melodic notes to the diatonic scale, and the seven vibrant colors of the rainbow. Seven is ‘Lucky Seven’, a number of completeness, security, safety, and rest.

Seven is the number of years that a student travels from the beginning of the 6th grade to completion of the 12th grade. And seven is the number of years that a student may safely mature and develop creatively, discovering art, gardens, and themselves, make friends, establish contacts, and build relationships with family and community in the Junior Docent Program at the Cummer Museum.

Why should teens participate in the Junior Docent Program? Here are seven reasons:

1. ART EDUCATION: The program enhances each participant’s appreciation of the arts and their ability to communicate that awareness. They learn skills in the practical use of art styles and develop their use of different art mediums.

2. LIFE SKILL DEVELOPMENT: The program offers students learning experiences that promote understanding, confidence, responsibility, and creativity. It employs a variety of art forms and educational processes that promote character building and leadership skills. 

3. COMMUNITY SERVICE: Students will each perform at least 20 hours of service per year for the Museum and the community by volunteering for public programs, exhibition openings, and behind-the-scenes work. In performing these service hours, the students’ participation in special events and programs develops their skills in working with the public and enhances their understanding of the many staff roles at the Museum. Over the years, Junior Docents have impacted thousands of individuals through their service, while learning to focus not only on their own success, but to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.

4. EXHIBITION DESIGN: Each year a topic is chosen, and the students are guided through the process of creating an exhibition featuring their own artwork and descriptive labels. Students are supplied with the tools they need to research the year’s topic, instructed in an art medium to create their work of art, and given a platform to discuss what they have learned with other students, adults, and the community at large.

5. MULTI-GENERATIONAL LEARNING: Students in the program range in age from 6th to 12th grade, and take on different leadership and team building roles as they progress through the program, including the Teen Council which empowers older participants to guide and develop younger students through mentorship, organizing team efforts, and guiding others. In addition to working with a diverse group of fellow students, they will also learn to speak and work with people of all ages and backgrounds. 

6. SUPPORTS TRADITIONAL EDUCATION: Guided research, visual representation, writing, problem solving, and public presentations all build on the visual, verbal, and written skills students learn in school. Lectures and instruction from Museum staff and guest lecturers dive deep into selected topics and support State and County standards in critical appreciation, research methods, creative expression, and social processes. 

7. A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE: The experiences students will have in this program are truly like no other. The program strives to go beyond the traditional classroom by presenting unique opportunities in the visual arts and the natural world. The goal of the program is to provide an intellectual challenge for the participants, as well as a safe space to express their ideas, make ‘mistakes’, use trial and error, and employ their critical thinking abilities.

August marks the shifting of energies to return to school, and it is the time to apply to become a Junior Docent. Starting in September and continuing through April, Junior Docents attend regular meetings on Tuesday nights at the Museum. The program is open to all interested students in the 6th through 12th grades.

For more information, please contact

The Junior Docent Program is funded through a Lifelong Learning Initiative grant from the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts and by Wells Fargo.

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This post was written by who has written 406 posts on The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.

Director of Art Education

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