As a child advocate I am sensitive to how teenagers are perceived in the media. There are not enough positive stories about wonderful things teens do. Instead there is an emphasis on negative stories. In recent years accounts of social media being used to harass and bully vulnerable classmates overshadow positive stories about teens who use their voice with love and responsibility. In no way do I mean to belittle or disregard the painful experiences that challenge many teens in terms of bullying. However, I would like to share an additional perspective. Because I have spent my entire professional career with teenagers, I know that most are usually kind, thoughtful and have a sense of humor.
This week I saw first hand how 585 girls in grades 6-12 positively dominated social media to show their love for their school. These girls took to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with hundreds of messages about the announcement of their new head of school. These teenage girls welcomed the new head and her husband with excitement, warmth and humor. They responsibly used their powerful voice to tell their hometown of Chattanooga that they are ready to embrace their school’s new leadership with open arms. Messages were positive, inclusive and witty.
The new head had an opportunity to deliver a short talk to all of the students, faculty, staff and many trustees Thursday morning. She talked about the unique ability all-girls schools have in developing young women who are civically minded professionals to be responsible leaders in their work, home, and communities. Also, she admitted that she was a little nervous eating in the cafeteria because she didn’t know anyone and asked that the girls would offer her a seat if their table was not filled. In what must be true Girls Preparatory School fashion, the new head received countless lunch invitations via Twitter, signs around campus, and in person in the halls. The girls showed their true selves – young scholars who are inclusive and clever in a kind and respectful personable manner. The girls of GPS embrace new people with open arms and hearts!
Teenagers just don’t come into the world being this responsible and empathetic. I know that the families who choose GPS not only value their daughters being academically prepared for life beyond high school, they believe their daughters must be young ladies who understand how to use their voice with social and personal responsibility. They want their daughters to have both academic and people skills. I also know that the faculty and staff of GPS must join the parents in helping the girls to understand how to take responsibility for their actions and words. I think GPS being a laptop school since 1998 has given the faculty and staff many years to build a culture where the expectation is that social media is used in a responsible and effective manner.
I’m that new head of school! I continue to be impressed with GPS. I am blessed to be able to work with such a high-caliber of student, teacher, staff member, administrator, and parent. I am really looking forward to starting my tenure July 1.
Here’s to the Girls of GPS!