What did you do for your Gold Award project?
The issue addressed by my project was unequal opportunity within my school for every student to learn Spanish. While traditional classroom style Spanish is offered, for differently abled students, there are not designated classrooms or hired staff to be able to offer these students the same opportunity to learn. My project created a coalition between Spanish Honor Society students and the ILC program (Independent Learning Communities), in order to provide ILC students the opportunity to learn Spanish within a one-on-one setting, and to allow Spanish Honor Society students the opportunity to share their accumulated knowledge. The root cause of this issue was a lack of human resources, specifically teachers, who have the time in their schedules to give ILC students a one-on-one teaching environment in order to enable ILC students to learn the nuances of a language. While the average class size in a public high school ranges from 20 to 30 students, classes at my high school can range upwards of 30 students due to its over 3,000 student population. For even the average student, these large class sizes can be challenging. ILC students face challenges with focus and in a large classroom, the noisy distracting environment inhibits their focus. The best learning environment for these students is a quiet room with only one or two other people. Unfortunately, most schools don’t have the means to accommodate this in terms of providing ILC students with private teachers, as foreign language is not a graduation requirement. My project addresses this issue by providing student teachers who are willing to spend the time to work one-on-one with these students. Since students have at least one free period, with the 100 members in Spanish Honor Society, it is easy to pair Spanish Honor Society members with ILC students in a way that fits both schedules. In order for ILC students to have equal opportunity to become bilingual and be set up for success in the job market after high school, it is imperative they are given individual attention to focus on becoming conversational in Spanish with this one on one teaching format. To accomplish this, I created an interactive Spanish curriculum unique to the learning needs of differently abled students, that can be used as a basis for all tutoring sessions. This curriculum covers a vast array of subjects including: time, seasons, family, food, school, classroom, conversation, activities, sports, colors, numbers, clothing, feelings, body parts, geography, animals, holidays, jobs and transportation. These subjects were chosen based on working with a Spanish teacher at my school to develop a holistic curriculum, comparable to that of a traditional Spanish 1 curriculum. This curriculum uses a plethora of media, including: presentations, videos, games, music, flashcards and worksheets, in order to reinforce the learning goals.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
I gauged the impact of my project on my target audience by administering surveys to tutors and ILC students alike to measure how members rated the programs as well as what could be improved and how much Spanish had been learned. Furthermore, because three additional schools have already adopted this program and the number of participants from first semester to second semester has tripled, the impact of my project is exponential.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
My project will be sustained beyond my involvement through Spanish Honor Society. I created a Google Sites page with all the curriculum loaded on the page in order to make the curriculum readily available after my departure. Additionally, my school uses a site named “Schoology” in order to allow students to view content teachers have posted. I utilized this same site, and created a course name “Unified Spanish,” in which I uploaded all of the curriculum for the course. In this way, after my involvement, both the Google Site, and the Schoology page will still exist independently. The Google site was developed to share more globally for those outside of the Cherry Creek School District, and the Schoology page was developed for those within the District. Students in Spanish Honor Society all have access to these pages, and are able to continually upload new content and use the material for future tutoring. I also set up an independent email associated with the project, to use as a login for the Google sites, and created a manual for next year’s students to use to continue the program. This is now an established program at my school, and the Spanish Honor Society sponsor, Ms. Wisler, will continue to sponsor this program and guide future students in their endeavors. Each year, Ms. Wisler will allow any student interested to lead the program and incentivize new membership to the program through rewarding participants with service hours that are required by Spanish Honor Society. Additionally, a printed manual, which is also available online, has been created to guide the new head of the program in their endeavors. All of these materials are meant to be continually refined.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
The other national/global link to my project is the Twitter page I have created to promote my project to others. Social media is the best way to reach millennials these days, and even businesses and schools have joined this movement so that almost everyone is digitally connected. Through this Twitter page, I have followed accounts of other schools and programs dealing with differently abled students. I have also posted a link to my Google sites website in order to provide universal access to the curriculum and program, in the hopes of growing this program. Furthermore, I have emailed other Spanish Honor Society sponsors (teachers) and ILC teachers within the district to promote this program. They have all received a link to the Google Sites page and have access to all course materials and guides to begin the program within their schools.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned from this project that being a leader is not an easy task. Leading requires constant communication with those you’re leading as well as those who are helping you. Some methods I learned that helped me lead this program is finding the easiest way for my peers to participate in this program. One of these ways was connecting digitally. Instead of sending them emails or requiring them to meet twice a week, I would send out group texts as reminders to sign up for tutoring or of updates with the program. Also, I learned the importance of touching base with the teachers I was working with. Even though I led the program, Ms. Wisler, the head of Spanish Honor Society, and Ms. Linda, the head of ILC, both needed regular updates from me in order to offer me tips or suggestions, so constant follow up with them has been key. I also learned that sometimes you need to try different methods in order to succeed. Last year, when I first started tutoring for ILC, I quickly learned that in order to reinforce a concept, using a variety of different methods is useful. I applied this same knowledge in the creation of this program. From finding the best meeting place to figuring out the best way to communicate with tutors, all proved to be tasks that required looking at the issue from more than one perspective. Concerning myself, I learned that I am a people person. I love making new connections and learning about new people and communicating with different people. In a school of over 3,000, most don’t even know every person in their own class let alone other classes. Through this program, I was able to meet and get to know students of all classes and demographics who came together for one purpose, to help others. I truly enjoyed getting to know teachers, staff, and students whom I never met before. Currently about 20 tutors are participating to teach all ILC students capable of participating.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
I firmly believe that as a result of this project, I will be able to take on even more strenuous challenges in all facets of my life. Knowing that there are a multitude of ways to solve any given issue has also enabled me to look at perspectives other than my own and try a variety of methods to surmount any given obstacle. In turn, this has developed my communication and leadership skills and taught me how to work as a unified front with those on a team. I was amazed that while I can accomplish a lot as an individual, with the help of others, so much more can be accomplished. It takes more than one person to solve an issue like the one I’ve identified in my project. Without the help of others this project would not have reached the magnitude of strength it did. Leadership is more than about the individual, it’s about how an individual can unite and influence others to work together for a common cause. It’s certainly true that there’s strength in numbers, and my sharing my passion and hard work with others who value the Spanish language, I was able to inspire my colleagues and now friends to take action with me. I will continue to grow and learn from others I encounter in my life, and apply both the knowledge I’ve gained from this project, and future knowledge acquisition to grow as both a person and a leader.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
I believe that my Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience because I was able to apply the values of the organization in a sustainable way. From when I started Girl Scouts in first grade, I began to develop the sense of what being a Girl Scout really means, being part of a larger community and developing ways to better that community as a whole. Furthermore, through completing my Gold Award I feel as though I have gained a greater sense of independence as an individual, because of the strenuous nature of all the requirements of the award.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Attaining my Gold Award has helped me become a G.I.R.L. by allowing me to identify a challenge within my community and giving me the opportunity to be a go-getter by formulating a plan and putting it into action. The project has helped me become an innovator by applying non-traditional methods to reach desired results. Not everything works the first time, sometimes it’s necessary to be creative and approach a challenge in a different manner. I’ve developed my risk-taking skills by reaching out to people I hadn’t known previously and taking the chance that they would reject my ideas or project as a whole. But by doing so, I’ve realized that the answer is always no unless you ask. Risks are a necessary part of life to achieve success. Finally, I’ve developed myself as a leader by working with students, faculty, and community members alike to unite for a common goal. This was no easy feat. I had to adapt my communication skills for my target audience and work in conjunction with an agglomeration of schedules to achieve success.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.