Nurturing Her Confidence and Respect for Others

Dr. Ralph Covino, History Teacher
At the GPS, we focus on developing girls’ skills and abilities through our curated set of experiences. The mission statement calls that “cultivating her strengths.” One of the best that I have ever seen at cultivating creativity, for example, was veteran GPS art teacher Debbie Glasscock. In her studio, you could often hear her prompting girls to consider how just a small change here or there could create an entirely new piece or change its message. In such a way she made a great impact by helping each girl to see that even while she might not be the most artistic, she was nevertheless still capable of awesome feats of creativity. 

Nurturing self-confidence and respect for others has, traditionally, been a tougher nut to crack. Through our partnership with R.E.A.L. Discussion, across several grade levels we are helping girls to see that their voices deserve to be heard and matter. The R.E.A.L. system builds confidence by having each girl thoroughly prepare in advance of the discussion so that she can go into the session secure in the knowledge that she has the right facts to draw on during the discussion itself. The unique pass-off system, which has the girls in charge of calling upon the next girl to speak, teaches them the value of reading the room and makes them aware of which girls still need to be heard. The set of Non-Verbal Communication gestures provide the girl speaking with bursts of on-the-spot affirmation and let her know that she is not alone in her beliefs. 

Does every R.E.A.L. discussion go smoothly? Absolutely not. As with all discussions, some are rough, some are smooth, some funny, most not. Some go wildly off topic, and some have participants over-invested in the topic at hand. What matters is not so much the content, though, but, rather, the skills-building. It is our fervent hope that the R.E.A.L. system will assist in our girls’ progress towards becoming empathetic listeners and bold and confident speakers. We trust the process.