I’m often asked about why a family would consider sending their daughter to an all-girls school. Certainly there are a range of reasons, but one that is underappreciated is the role girls’ schools play in raising the educational and professional aspirations of young women. Studies show that graduates of girls’ schools pursue more challenging coursework in their post-secondary educations, are more likely to pursue studies in areas where women are underrepresented, and take their educations further. In fact, the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools reports that 66% of girls’ school graduates complete graduate school, compared to 9.3% of the general population! Impressive as those statistics are, a nuanced aspect beyond formal education is that girls school graduates have higher aspirations in all aspects of their lives. They not only expect more from themselves, but from those around them as well.
One way we help girls to elevate their aspirations is to provide ample role models from within our own community and by leveraging external people from the broader business and non-profit communities. At MGA, we do this by first providing high quality faculty and staff who seek to be positive models of a range of adult-life phases. Next, our faculty commonly brings in speakers to their classes or takes the classes out into the community to share subject-specific expertise and insight. Recent examples of this include civil engineers coming to speak to Ms. Knudsen’s Coding and Engineering class and a national newspaper reporter to Ms. Twomey’s English class.
Our newest effort in this area is our “MGA Profiles in Strength, Generosity, and Courage Speaker Series” where female community leaders are invited to share their stories with our girls. We look for women who represent various walks of life, ages, ethnicities, and perspectives. While we know that not every girl will fully appreciate every speaker, the goal is to present our students with interesting stories for them to consider as they develop plans for their own lives. We ask our Profiles speakers to share how they got to where they are, and our girls are often surprised at how many twists and turns even the most successful women experience. As adults we know that life is decidedly “non-linear” and that our strength of character comes not from the easy experiences in life, but from those difficult moments when we all are called to become our better selves. Our goal is to give our students a glimpse into the myriad paths to “success,” however each individual defines it. We’ve been lucky to have generous women who have been willing to share their stories. Here is a sampling of women who have spoken or who are scheduled:
Jessica Conley, Alumna, TV Meteorologist, WCSH-TV
Oami Amarasingham, Director of Advocacy, ACLU ME
Deanna Sherman, CEO, Dead River Company
Layne Gregory & Dr. Anne Hallward, Safe Spaces Radio
Gabrielle Melchionda, Entrepreneur, Mad Gab’s
Danielle Conway, Dean of the University of Maine Law School
Mary Allen Lindemann, Founder/Owner Coffee By Design
Brenda Garrand, CEO, GarrandPartners
Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
More information on each speaker can be found on our website at mainegirlsacademy.org/profiles. If you have a recommendation for a speaker or would like to share your story with our girls, please click HERE to email me directly.
~Amy L. Jolly, Head of School