Assistant Principal Jody Woods teamed up with Ms. Lucas, the District Coordinator of African American and Multicultural Outreach quickly identified 18 girls are students who have struggled in school, academically, socially, behaviorally. They started meeting with these girls to try to dig down into what was going on with them and how we could help them to start making positive choices and moving in a better direction in school and in their lives outside of school.
Through this process they have come to develop personal relationships with each of these girls. They have learned to trust and share some of their story. They have learned that many of these girls suffered from some sort of significant emotional or physical trauma in their lives and that is part of the reason for their issues in school. Homelessness, death of a parent or loved one, sexual molestation by family members: the stories were heartbreaking.
Through a program called "Empow-Her" the schools has started to build up some life skills in these girls: how to self advocate, how to begin to trust adults, how to express themselves in a positive manner. We are exposing them to successful adults that have overcome similar life situations. We have started to show them that they have choices in life and how to decide what the good ones and bad ones are. We have high hopes for these girls! The girls and their families are responding well to the individualized attention: grades are improving, attendance has increased, skipping has been reduced and some of the more aggressive behaviors have been reduced. All of our freshman girls earned above a 2.4 GPA for the 1st semester of high school. All of our upperclassmen girls raised their overall GPA and 2 of them have raised their GPA up to above the 2.0 to meet the graduation standard! We are very proud of their efforts!
The school's next step is to provide them the experience of travel outside their community to a place of great opportunity, history and culture. We want to take them to Washington DC. For some of these girls, this would be the first time they have left the Sulphur Springs area, left the state of Florida, flown in a plane, stayed in a hotel or been on any kind of significant field trip anywhere! The experience is one they they will never forget!