-- Story by Mary A. Castillo, photo by TKTK
Dedicated to teens
It’s power hour time
After the bus drops them off, the teens of the Laguna Beach Boys &
Girls Club hurry through the back courtyard and line up at the door to
the Teen Center. Standing out to greet them is Lisa Schoenle, director of
Teen Youth Services to adults, but older sister and sometimes no-nonsense
mentor to the teens.
“The worst thing I could ever do is send someone to the ‘other side,”’
Schoenle said, pointing to the wall that separates the Teen Center from
the sixth grade and younger crowd. “So when someone cops an attitude,
that’s where they end up.”
But before her group gets started on writing the Mother’s Day cards
that they’ll pass out at a local retirement center or pile into the van
for a beach cleanup project, Schoenle gets everyone to settle down for
“Power Hour,” time dedicated to homework and reading.
Creating good citizens
For the most part “her kids,” as Schoenle calls them, don’t come here
to cop attitudes. They come to the Teen Center to participate in a
variety of projects and programs organized by Schoenle.
“I want the teens to become responsible, caring citizens who are
concerned about their community and others,” said Schoenle, who has been
with the Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club since 2000.
A big part of her job is to organize and run five core programs that
emphasize leadership and character development, health and life skills,
the arts, education and career development and sports, recreation and
“Lisa goes way above and beyond,” said Will Robinson, assistant
director of teen youth services. “She’s here easily 10 to 12 hours a day
setting up programs and events to keep the kids away from the things that
can get them in trouble.”
The Laguna Niguel resident first joined the Boys & Girls Club of
Capistrano Valley after moving from Minnesota in 1999. With five years of
teaching experience under her belt, Schoenle wanted to continue working
with kids but on a more one-on-one level.
“As a teacher I couldn’t always interrupt class and counsel a student
who I knew was suffering through a fight with their best friend,”
However, it’s clear as Schoenle checks in on each and every teen in
the room, that her relationships with her charges are built in mutual
respect and admiration.
Ashley Garcia, a 12-year-old member of the Surf Breakers Keystone Club
said, “She helped me become a person who wants to help rather than just
sit around and do stuff for myself.”