Dinner and auction benefitting middle school for girls in grades six through eight set for March 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Inn at Loretto. The evening will feature presentations from current students and an alumna; dinner and dancing with live music from The Gruve, live and silent auctions, and raffle tickets for a student-built, hand-carved, traditional New Mexican Blanket Chest.
Over 17 years ago co-founder Lee Lewin, then a public school teacher found herself troubled by what she noticed in her classroom. She observed her once lively and engaged female students becoming silent and no longer raising their hands. Fears of being teased and social pressure are known factors for both boys and girls as they approach the tween years. However, Lewin saw a pattern specific to girls that emerged in the fifth grade. “Many girls—not all of them, but many—lose sight of their own individuality, their own strengths.” Lewin continues:
“Middle school is a critical time to develop academic strengths and self-esteem so that girls can continue on to the high schools of their choices and be successful.”
Research shows that adolescent girls can feel uncomfortable competing with and outperforming boys. They often fall behind boys in mathematics, science and applied arts, and technology, and may continue to lose academic confidence. In a single-gender environment, girls can discover and develop their individual voices with less apprehension. And research also shows that as girls grow into women, this gender gap continues, with women tending to shy away from raising their hands or feeling confident about what they know as compared to men especially in traditionally male fields.
Enter the Santa Fe Girls’ School, a middle school devoted to girls in grades six through eight. Known for its academic rigor, focus on critical thinking and seminar-style classrooms, the schools’ innovative curriculum not only strengthens girls academic capacity, but programs like“Girls in Focus: Hands-on Math” and “Boots in the River: Emerging Scientists” also cultivate confidence and curiosity in fields such as math and science where girls are not traditionally encouraged to be leaders. Along with its high academic standards, the school encourages students to know themselves and find their voice. The girls develop a sense of community fostered through the small intimate setting as well as an engaged relationship with learning. All students are encouraged and supported in their efforts to participate in non-competitive discussions that honor difference of opinion and expand the notion of “what is right” to include the question “why do you think that is right?”
Says Assistant Director Pat Preib:
“As girls experience the growing pains associated with the transformation into young women, they take their places in a small learning environment, crafting an identity and finding their voices. At the Girls’ School, they are not only encouraged to speak their minds, they are expected to present their thoughts, their calculations, and their art work to their classmates and members of the larger school community.”
Fulfilling the schools’ mission to: ‘foster intellectual growth and emotional strength in adolescent girls, preparing them for the demands of high school, college, and young adulthood,’ the nearly 200 graduates of the Santa Fe Girls School do extremely well in whatever high school they chose, with about 98% of them continuing to college.
“The Santa Fe Girls’ School was instrumental in helping my daughters develop self-confidence,”says Bruce Miller, father of two Girls’ School graduates and a long-term member of the Board of Trustees. “Following their graduation, they relished both the opportunities and challenges at Santa Fe High and beyond. They’ll both be graduating with honors from college this spring and their experience in the Boots in the River program was a major influence on their career choices, one in environmental and land use policy and the other in watershed science.”
The school continually receives feedback from teachers at area high schools that SFGS graduates stand out because they are confident, they have a love of learning, and are well prepared in their ability to tackle even the most challenging of coursework. Graduates now experiencing the fruition of such a strong foundation speak frequently about their time at the Santa Fe Girls’ School as being critical in them developing their capacity to excel, and to know themselves and what they want.
Alumna Lucy Gent Foma, Fulbright Fellow and author of the forthcoming book: Funded! How I Leveraged My Passion to Live a Fulfilling Life—and How You Can Too (Morgan James Publishing May 16, 2016) who will be a speaker at the event, echoes this saying: “The years I spent at the Santa Fe Girls’ School were the best educational experiences of my life. I was supported to learn about myself and learned to love me for who I am. The school has had a lasting impression, and now I reach for my goals and dreams, not those of others.”
The school invites the entire community to join them in supporting this innovative educational resource for adolescent girls in Santa Fe. The lively evening will feature a delectable dinner catered by the award-winning Luminaria at the Inn at Loretto, auctions of art, jewelry, vacation packages and gift certificates from many of Santa Fe’s finest stores, spas and restaurants. Dancing to the popular band, The Gruve and a chance to buy raffle tickets for a student-built masterpiece: a hand-carved, traditional New Mexican Blanket Chest round out the lively evening.