TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!
This year’s IWD campaign, #BeBoldForChange, is asking all of us to take “groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women.” At The Grayson School, we accept the challenge to reach and support more high-ability girls, as well as all underserved children, with gifted programming that allows them to learn, think deeply, and reach their potential.
WOMEN MAKING HISTORY
Nearly 5 years ago, Melissa Bilash, a federally-trained educational advocate, became frustrated with not being able to enact systematic change for gifted education in a state with a zero-funded mandate. Along with a team of incredibly dedicated volunteers, mostly women, who shared her vision, Melissa worked tirelessly to open The Grayson School, making history as Pennsylvania’s first independent private school for gifted learners.
After opening our doors in 2015 with 12 students, enrollment is expected to grow to more than 45 students in the 2017-18 school year.
BUT WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?
In our inaugural student body, 25% of the students were female, a figure which grew to 38% today. While this percentage aligns with public school statistics, where 2/3 of identified gifted students are boys, this isn’t good enough for The Grayson School. FamilyFocus.org recently published an article online featuring The Grayson School about Meeting the Needs of Gifted Girls that explains why girls are less likely than boys to be identified as gifted. Expanding outreach efforts to young girls at our school through our Enrichment Center programs, speaker events, as a resource to parents of gifted girls is a key strategic effort at our school.
In January, The Enrichment Center offered a TechGirlz class, free to the public, to engage and support girls with interest in technology. And last week, Grayson hosted C. Matthew Fugate, Ph.D., who presented to an audience of parents and educators in the greater Philadelphia region on Understanding the Unique Needs of Gifted Girls. Dr. Fugate spoke about what it means to be a girl who is gifted in the 21st century, and how girls progress through their school years, particularly as they enter their secondary years and “girl world.” He also presented his research on what it means to be a girl who is gifted with ADHD, with a focus on seeing them as young women who are “Attention Divergent Hyperactive Gifted.”
BE BOLD FOR CHANGE FOR GIFTED GIRLS
At his workshop on Saturday Dr. Matt Fugate said, “We have to find ways to let these girls celebrate who they are as gifted young women while understanding that the challenges they face now don’t have to get in the way of who they can become.”
We agree! His words inspire us to be diligent in supporting the needs of these talented young girls and to #BeBoldForChange.
HONORING A CHANGE-MAKER!
Melissa and her team at The Grayson School were honored in 2016 by Philly.com as a Stellar Start-Up in the minority and women-owned business category. Additionally, Melissa received the inaugural 2016 Innovator Award from the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE). Melissa is a frequent speaker at many regional, national and international conferences on gifted parenting and education topics, including the upcoming 2017 World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC) Conference in Sydney in July, and the 2017 Annual Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) Conference in Chicago in August.