What did you do for your Gold Award project?
“Year of the Teacher” is an annual, year-long project at Chaparral High School and now neighboring schools, which promotes a greater respect and appreciation for educators within schools and communities, while increasing awareness about educational issues within the community and country. Each month, individual students or student clubs implemented tangible service projects for teachers to provide tangible service and respect for educators throughout the building. This included eight main projects for each month of the school year, such as a staff car wash, candy jars, and free babysitting, in addition to supplemental projects that extend the impact of the project, keep educators’ spirits up, and show appreciation for not only teachers, but support staff and administration as well.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
Throughout the project, I monitored impact on staff and students through several surveys, receiving positive comments as well as areas for improvement. For example, 100% of the teachers I surveyed felt a positive, appreciative atmosphere after the project’s initiation, and many offered suggestions for more appreciation ideas. However, the most powerful measurements of impact were the moments of personal connection that the project created. After Interact Club quickly washed a math teacher’s car before she had to run off and pick up her kids from school, she emailed me later, saying “Thanks to you and your crew for the best 2 minute car wash EVER! I think it was better than all $6, five-minute car washes [I’ve paid for]!” Later in the year, a group of students wrote an individual note to each teacher, thanking and encouraging them for their dedication. Afterwards, a teacher whose day was especially stressful broke down in tears, and he told the club adviser that his note made his day so much better and reminded him why he wanted to become a teacher in the first place. It was such moments that made the project truly successful and meaningful.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
“Year of the Teacher” is intrinsically designed to continue in future years. Each club that I worked with has made their project an annual event that will continue long after I leave Chaparral High School. Interact Club, for example, has already continued the free car wash that we put on for teachers at the beginning of the year in 2014. National Honor Society will continue to do annual babysitting during the month of November and again during teacher conferences, and every other club will continue their events as well.
In addition to continuation at Chaparral High School, “Year of the Teacher” has expanded to other schools in Douglas County and Cherry Creek School Districts in the 2015-16 school year. Grandview High School’s Student Government has agreed to implement the project at their school this year as well. I have also created a website (yearoftheteacher.wix.com/givebacktoteachers) and downloadable, 27-page “Year of the Teacher Starter Kit” that includes background information, an action plan, step-by- step instructions and 10 pages of resources and promotional materials in order for these schools to seamlessly plan and implement the project. Thus, future students at my school and other schools can easily find information and ideas for introducing and continuing the project, providing ongoing sustainability.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
In 2014, the National Education Association reported that as much as 30-percent of all U.S. teachers leave the classroom within the first five years, while professionals with the same levels of education, such as healthcare, finance and business professionals only experienced an average turnover rate of 15.7% (CompData Surveys). High stress environments, lack of community engagement, low compensation and lack of support leave teachers feeling unappreciated and lacking a sense of purpose. Segun Eubanks, director for Teacher Quality at NEA says, “educators want a sense of purpose, success and a feeling that they are making a difference in their students’ lives.” Thus, “Year of the Teacher” created a solution to this problem and addressed teacher attrition rates and lack of support at a local, school-based level.
In order to create a project that truly influenced others on a national level, I created a “Year of the Teacher Starter Kit” as mentioned above. This Starter Kit can be downloaded, along with promotional materials and other resources from my website, yearoftheteacher.wix.com/givebacktoteachers, allowing the project to expand to anyone who has Internet access, therefore expanding the impact nationally and increasing the effect of its objectives.
What did you learn about yourself?
After spending just over 100 hours and a year organizing, coordinating and implementing 10 different student service projects for teachers, I learned that it truly takes an entire community to make a difference. I found that I am very passionate about service and empathy for others, and I am always ready to commit to a challenge and bring people together for a positive cause, but it is through the empowerment of others and the collaboration, support and dedication of others that makes any form of service worthwhile and successful.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
The Girl Scout Gold Award pushed me to go above my own expectations and limits to make a sustainable difference in my community and has enabled me to become a more involved citizen, empowering and empathetic leader, and spirited community member. I will be able to take this deeper understanding of change and community with me in my future endeavors at college, as a Girl Scout volunteer, and in life to make a greater difference in my world.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The Girl Scout Gold Award united all that I learned in Girl Scouts into one powerful project that enabled me to create sustainable change in my community. Girl Scouts shaped the way I see the world and how I interact with others in the world, teaching me that friendship, leadership, empowerment and community allow us to spread our light in the world, and experience life to the utmost. Thus, the Gold Award culminated a ten year-long experience and spurred on inspiration that will carry me throughout the rest of my life.
**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 email@example.com