It’s Who We Are, It’s What We Do
At Convention in 2010, the Fraternity promoted a new program that had been piloted in California that spring—GIRLS Academy. As a teacher, I loved the idea of sharing our Tradition of Leadership with middle school girls, empowering them and helping them to discover the leaders within themselves. It was the perfect fit for me as an educator, as a Kappa and as a leader.
Later this year I was thrilled when Janet, Kappa’s GIRLS Academy Chairman, asked to me join the GIRLS Academy team. I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about how the program works. I was assigned to shadow Janet at GIRLS Academy in Minneapolis, in March, to learn how it works, and then to facilitate GIRLS Academy in Chicago in April. I was excited and nervous to attend the GIRLS Academy in Minnesota. The GA materials were sent to my house and I read them over, but nothing can really prepare you for what to expect.
GIRLS Academy is structured like Kappa’s Leadership Academy. The middle school girls are assigned a color team at random, and work with that group for the majority of the weekend. It is a great way to break up cliques and encourage girls to make new friends. The weekend of crafts, activities, and journaling helps teens explore what it means to be a leader.
To be honest with you, middle school kids are not my favorite. Throughout college and even during student teaching, I avoided them. It can be an awkward age, where kids are smelly, confused, and hormonal. Despite my personal feelings, I’ve begun teaching middle school this year as a beginning band director, and also in private music lessons. I needed GIRLS Academy. During the weekend, I pictured my students, thinking how beneficial this program could be for them. We talked about tough issues—bullying, body image and mean girls. I learned so much from their open and honest conversations. Most kids are like sponges, absorbing everything you say. But middle school kids are like clay—moldable, impressionable and ever changing. I realized that middle school students need the most guidance, the most encouragement, and the most love. GIRLS Academy has totally changed how I view my students. If I can have a fraction of the effect the Minnesota women had on the girls at Northeast Middle School, I will be a better teacher.
Want to host GA in your community? Do something amazing—apply now! Applications are due May 1, and selected groups will be notified by June 15.