Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.
A'Dorian founded SheWins! in Newark, NJ (where she grew up) to help middle school girls cope with the loss of a parent or sibling due to gun violence. She was inspired to work with this particular group of students because her own father was shot and killed when she was a young girl. A'Dorian managed to grow up shaped by, but not limited by, this loss but she was well aware that she was lucky in her support and strength. As a college student at Swarthmore, A'Dorian applied for a grant to start SheWins! which is now in its second year. It provides more intense support during the summer time with field trips, workshops, academic and emotional support. For example, last summer the girls attended a leadership conference at the White House. During the school year it is an after-school program providing a lighter touch including homework help and crafts. SheWins! has raised money to supplement the initial grant which helps to run the programs and provide some scholarships for students to attend boarding school.
Here is a link to an article about A'Dorian's selection as a Glamour Magazine Top 10 College Women of the Year award http://www.glamour.com/story/adorian-murray-thomas-2016-college-women-of...
Here is a link to an article about A'Dorian in the Swarthmore alumni magazine:
What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?
I am the co-chair of TFA-NJ and have been a mentor to A'Dorian over the past 5 months as she applied to Teach for America's corps. She was admitted but has deferred her acceptance to the next school year in order to fulfill the requirements of her grant from Swarthmore. It would have been impossible for A'Dorian to complete her commitment to both organizations this summer. A'Dorian first came under the support of Teach for America teachers when she was in 5th grade and started attending TEAM Academy, a school in the KIPP network founded and staffed by TFA alumni (Ryan Hill, Sha Regans, Tia Morris, Lauren Grayson & Heidi Moore Fisher.) She attended TEAM for 4 years and then went to Northfield Mount Hermon (a prep boarding school in Massachusetts) and then to Swarthmore where she graduated this spring. I encouraged A'Dorian to choose Teach for America because regardless of whether she stays in the classroom after two years she will benefit from the additional exposure to leadership development. I have seen her speak at two separate KIPP events as an alum of the program and always talk with her in advance so that she knows the audience is rooting for her. I have helped introduce her to other attendees at these events to be sure that she continues to develop a network of people who can mentor her and connect her with other individuals and groups doing similar work.
What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?
A'Dorian and the young women that she mentors have learned that they are not alone in their losses, that there are people outside of their families who will support them, and that they can use their life experiences as a opportunity to reflect and focus on growth.