University of Wisconsin-Stout

Nov. 28, 2011

Some experts believe a person’s course in life is determined by his or her early childhood years.

Amy Schlieve, a University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Education professor and special education program director, thinks otherwise. “The teen brain has as much capability to learn new concepts as when they’re toddlers,” said Schlieve.

Schlieve and Stephen Bavolek have written “It’s All About Being a Teen: 99 Lessons for Developing Nurturing Values and Skills in Adolescents,” a new resource for health teachers, specialists and others who work with teenagers.

Before becoming a university professor, Schlieve taught prekindergarten through high school special education classes and worked with students with learning and emotional problems.

She has seen the capacity for change in the teenage years. “It’s one of the reasons I wrote this,” she said.

Yet, the 99 lessons aren’t just for “children we would consider at risk or troubled but teens in general. We want to build skills, awareness and healthier lives in all teenagers,” Schlieve said.

Schlieve and Bavolek each have more than 30 years of experience in the field. That experience is put to good use in the curriculum they’ve published, but “It’s All About Being a Teen” is based on research by Bavolek’s company, NurturingParenting of Park City, Utah.

Each lesson, or construct, is data-driven and was field-tested with social workers, Schlieve said. “When you can write something based on research it’s far superior to writing something on your own,” she said.

Schlieve did most of the writing and Bavolek the editing. Bavolek was Schlieve’s master’s thesis adviser at UW-Eau Claire before he left to start his research company. Schlieve also taught at UW-Eau Claire before joining UW-Stout in 1998.

“Because I’m an educator myself, I wrote it like I would use it in the classroom,” Schlieve said.

The lessons are in 15 competency areas, such as understanding how the teen brain functions; increasing self-awareness; what it means to be a family; sex and sexuality; understanding risky behaviors; love and dating; and handling peer pressure.

“The lessons are designed to empower teens to develop healthy lifestyles for success,” Bavolek said. “Success in this context is defined as the ability to make positive choices; to break the cycle of dysfunction that has engulfed them; to develop a positive self-identity; and to select peers that are on the same positive path.”

Schlieve and Bavolek also co-authored a K-12 curriculum in the 1990s.

“It’s All About Being a Teen” is sold through www.nurturingparenting.com.

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