Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I do what I do

I recently posted that I joined the board of Hardy Girls Healthy Women. This morning, we received the following letter from a school teacher (I have taken out the teacher's name, what area of the State she is from and the school she teaches in). Please take 3 minutes and read it:

Dear Hardy Girls Healthy Women,

For the past twenty years I have been fortunate enough to be a teacher in the area, teaching middle school science and elementary children. For the last three years I have been honored to be a fourth grade teacher. I think it's fair to say that I know kids.
Something that has surprised me about my position at the School is the degree of poverty. I probably shouldn't be so surprised being that our country is experiencing one of the worst recessions in our life time. And of course that translates into strained families and hungry children. This year I have one student in particular who is hungry, a lot. She comes from a loving home and her parents try their best. But she struggles immensely at school. She's hungry and she's tired and she often does not do well in school, academically or socially.

During January all the teachers received the standardized test results of our students and to say I was shocked when I saw (let me refer to this girl as Cecilia; not her real name) Cecillia's scores is an understatement. She did very well. I have been watching and working with this girl with great concern since September. She has such talent and potential yet I didn't see it as it was masked behind hunger and apathy. She's a lovely girl yet she isn't thriving or performing near her potential. That's when I happened to see the Hardy Girls conference on their Facebook page. I spoke with my administrator and got the go ahead to talk with Cecilia and her parents. Everyone was very excited about this opportunity and I signed Cecilia and myself up for the conference. But I still worried. I worried that she wouldn't be able to enjoy herself with so many unfamiliar faces. I worried she would feel awkward with her teacher. I just worried the day would not be successful. The morning arrived and off we went. I could tell Cecilia was just as nervous as I was. But she showed up; I was thrilled.

When we got to the conference it was very busy and we just stood for quite a while and watched, allowing Cecilia time to take in all that was happening around her. She didn't say much but that is her way. After a perfect breakfast we participated in a scavenger hunt and that helped her relax and get a feel for what the day was going to be about. We then went in to a small auditorium to listen to some speeches/presentations by some older girls. Cecilia was mesmerized. They had her in the palm of their hands. When it was time for her to go off to her workshop and me to mine she was hesitant but she went. So far so good. At lunch she was more relaxed but still seemed unsure. Afternoon came and we went to our afternoon workshops. All went well.

But the purpose of this letter is what happened at the end of the day when Cecilia filled in a short survey on her thoughts about her day. Actually I wrote her words as she didn't want to fill it in. I watched her as she answered each question quickly and proceeded to write word for word what she said. I wanted her to share more but that's the way it is some time. Then we got to the sentence starter....Before today I didn't know that I...... and here's how Cecilia replied..... "could be proud of myself." I nearly fell off my chair. I still tear up when I think of her and that comment. Thank you Hardy Girls for helping Cecilia and all the Cecilia's realize that they "can be proud of themselves". The day was worth every effort and worry.



THIS! Is why I do what I do. I am a strong advocate of girls and women doing anything they set their minds to, because we are just as good, if not better than some of you boys out there. I was fortunate enough to have amazing parents who never said I could not do something, but instead, asked how I would accomplish my goal. I am proud of who I am, the fact that I write a blog about hunting and the fact that I have folks like all of you who read it and support me. Through my work with Hardy Girls, I hope more girls like Cecelia can be inspired to do anything they set their minds to. Including writing a blog about hunting.

4 comments:

  1. That is truly touching! Receiving some sort of confirmation that your hard work matters is such a wonderful gift!

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  2. Amen! I have never heard of your group, but I teach at job corps. Today we graduated 16 outstanding individuals who did just what you said. They learned to be proud of themselves. They overcame loss of family, being a refugee, disabilities, and so many internal issues and completed our program. There is no greater joy for me than seeing and celebrating their success. Thank you for the letter. It is so very true.

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    1. Hardy Girls is an amazing organization. We are based in Maine, but create programs to be used across the country that empower girls and adults who work with girls. Thank YOU for the work you do, too!

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  3. Good job and thanks for giving an opportunity to those who may have fallen through the cracks at no fault of their own. I was fortunate to have had parents that set no gender boundaries and encouraged my interests regardless of "social norms". A gift that I appreciate and am thankful for everyday and continue to support and advocate for other young women. Being a woman, professional woodworker and avid outdoors person I have made my home in those places outside the so called "social norms". There is clearly no doubt in my mind that women are every bit as capable, in all ways as our male counterpart.

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