Moxie Leadership Academy is a start-up nonprofit summer program that targets incoming fifth and sixth grade girls by measuring academic and personal growth. We are based at Crocker Elementary School on Gen. Taylor. Day 1 was relatively slow; the girls were assessed in mathematics, science and emotional intelligence. Moxie is centered on the idea of project-based learning – girls do hands-on projects to learn instead of the traditional lectures, worksheets and homework.

I am working alongside a great team! Vanessa is our supervisor. She handles all the reservations, finances and other logistics. Christina is covering logic/critical thinking and interpersonal skills. I also have a classroom aid, Malajah. She is an incoming eighth grader and will probably be a huge help to me.

The idea is that the girls learn and grow without feeling like they’re in school (because they aren’t!). I’m anticipating this being a tough balance to strike. The daily schedule includes:

  • Advisory – This usually involves some sort of team building exercise or activity for the girls to get to know one another better
  • Breakfast
  • Math – I’m hoping to cover area, perimeter, volume, surface area, circumference, fractions, some statistics and probability
  • Workshop – This will be some sort of construction project or craft
  • Social action project – Students will choose social issues they feel passionately about and design an action or solution to further their beliefs
  • Interpersonal skills – This class will focus on personal growth and the growth of friendships amongst the girls
  • Lunch
  • Science – Includes mostly hands-on projects and experiments
  • Logic/Critical Thinking – Projects and activities that involve problem solving
  • Fitness – There will be a different instructor each week teaching different physical classes
  • Game time – organized games that the girls play together
  • Fridays include pamoja in place of science lab. Here students will showcase what have made/experienced throughout the week. Parents will attend.

I teach four classes every day – fifth grade math, sixth grade math, fifth grade science and sixth grade science. I am incredibly nervous planning all these lessons. I have no certification and no teaching experience aside from some tutoring. I’m also nervous about facilitating personal relationships with the girls, and striking the balance between friend and teacher in being a mentor to them.

All the girls come from low-income families, and I expect that poverty isn’t even the worst that some of them have experienced. That’s why it is so important to me to not only engage the girls in STEM, but to help them grow into strong, motivated young women.

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