Class leads to girl-mentoring program

May 4, 2018
Abigail Carbonneau
girl power

G.I.R.L. leaders — From left, Julianne Grimsrud ’21, Kate O’Handley ’19, Bryn Churchill ’20, Rachel Colletti ’20, Paige Bulson ’19, and Tiril Grimsrud ’21.

An academic exercise in a Saint Michael’s management class became a popular and effective mentoring program for girls at Mater Christi School in Burlington this semester after a group of six women decided they wanted to serve their community through their class assignment.

In his class, Professor Brosh Teucher of the College’s business faculty requires students to form groups to “plan, organize, lead, and control an original project of their choice” using management skills learned throughout the course. One student team of six women ended up not only developing the idea for — but also implementing — “Girls In Real Life” (GIRL), with the mission “to create a community through relationships that inspire and empower girls of all ages to gain confidence through activities that promote healthy living.”

The students behind the program are Rachel Colletti ‘20, Bryn Churchill ‘20, Julianne Grimsrud ‘21, Kate O’Handley ’19, Paige Bulson ‘19, and Tiril Grimsrud ’21, who first came together as a team on the shared idea that they wanted to use the assignment as a way to better the community, team members explains recently.  Eventually, after brainstorming — a part of the team-building process learned in class — they developed their female mentoring program.

They planned and organized activities for 28 girls in kindergarten through fifth grade “that would empower the girls to gain confidence in themselves through the model of challenge, success, discovery, and reflection,” according to their written plan. Once the plan for the program was developed, the team worked with the administration at Mater Christi School in Burlington to bring the program to life. The team finally settled on a four-week program, each week having a different theme.

• Week 1: “Dream Big” where the girls made dream-catchers and discussed how girls can break down barriers to accomplish their dreams.

• Week 2: “Sticky, Icky, Gooey Science” required the girls to experiment with “slime.”  They learned about different career opportunities in the STEM fields.  The first two weeks used hands-on activities to promote mental health and group conversation to help break down barriers that girls experience.

• Week 3: “Play Like a G.I.R.L” with a focus for this week was physical health. The girls practiced yoga and played team games outside.

• Week 4: “Celebrating YOU” included a final celebration of what it meant to be a girl and involved a slumber party theme, games, and lots of time to socialize and create bonds that will last long beyond the four weeks of the program.

Team members reported to their class that the four-week program was very successful with all 28 girls from kindergarten through fifth grade not only participating, but appearing to be big fans of the program.

The program organizers now are looking into collaborating with other school run-organizations such as MOVE and the Center for Women and Gender to put on more programs in the future.

“I believe in advancing learning through the practical application of knowledge and skills,” said Professor Teucher. “Equipping and empowering students to follow their passions leads to meaningful and substantive achievements. The G.I.R.L project demonstrates Saint Michael’s business students’ initiative, ingenuity, and impact. I hope that this important project continues and expands.”

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