Success Academy, the New York-based charter school network, believes in its girls. To such an extent, teachers in various Success Academy schools have begun programs targeted at girls to make sure they are able to achieve the success they deserve.
One of these programs is a group targeting female students that teachers at the Success Academy Crown Heights began a few years ago. At the time, the girls involved in the group were in second grade. They have now graduated and moved on to high school, but the group is still on-going with a group of 40 Crown Heights girls currently attending each week.
These girl groups are small, so each girl has the chance to participate and speak, and most meet over lunch.
The students eat in a classroom with at least one teacher, and talk about their day. After lunch, they continue the conversation by talking about issues that are important to them and to their education.
These issues can be anything from how girls are portrayed in the media, to how they are perceived depending on how they dress, and the rightness or wrongness of all of it.
Success Academy teachers involved in the program say, since it was begun, they have seen a huge difference in the self confidence level of all the students. Before joining the group, the girls tend to be quiet and shy. After a few months in the group, they are talkative and self-confident and willing to express their opinions.
Success Academy has always believed girls have as much right to succeed as boys, so how they are taught also feeds into that belief.
Success Academy students are all taught to learn with minimal teacher instruction and with more hands-on project-based work. What this has done is allow them to develop critical thinking, to think outside the box and to be able to solve problems themselves.
When they are then expected to perform well on standardized tests, these girls do, as their brains are already used to figuring out answers correctly.
Groups like the Success Academy Crown Heights girl group just adds another level to their education. A level that is teaching them even more self-confidence and self-respect.