What is the nicest thing a teacher has ever done for you? This is a trend that is popping up all over the internet; did they take into consideration your hardships at home? Extend a deadline because they truly care?
Luckily, if you go to Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan, you are taught by teachers who not only care- but go the extra mile.
TEACHERS WHO GO THE EXTRA MILE
Jamie Slenk does just that and goes above and beyond to make sure the kids in her school grow up to be strong and intelligent adults. She did this by taking the time to not only educate them, but give them each a Pieces Of Me charm to remind them what they have to offer the world.
During the first week of January, HC has a week long Winterim which allows students to spend a week outside of traditional curriculum, exposing them to new ideas, potential careers, even lifetime skills.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COURSE: ALL THINGS WOMEN
"All Things Women is a course designed to allow girls to discuss things like identity, empowerment, and healthy relationships. High schoolers, especially young women, are constantly bombarded with messages from society, media, adults, and even each other about who to be, how to act, what to like, and what to wear in order to create the “right” perception of themselves. It can be such a confusing and overwhelming environment to spend some of the most formative years of your life in."
Girls spent the week working to build authentic community with each other by identifying their strengths, what they stand for, what defines them, and who they ultimately belong to.
"My hope is that when girls walk away from the class, they can stand a little taller in knowing these things, and help other women do the same."
WHAT ACTIVITIES DID YOU DO TO TEACH WOMEN EMPOWERMENT?
"Throughout the week we watched some TED talks, took some personality tests, read articles/blogs, and did a lot of discussing and reflecting. Some things we asked ourselves were:
- What do you like about yourself (that question proves to be a tough one almost every year)?
- What about your personality strengths and weaknesses can you use to your advantage to know and love yourself and other people better?
- How can you identify and manage healthy/unhealthy relationships in your life?
- What really defines who you are?
- What does feminism really mean, why has it become a politically charged word, or one with a negative connotation, and how can we be strong women in today’s society?
My favorite activity is the one we do on the last day, because the girls have a chance to speak positive truths about one another after spending the week together. They each write a letter of affirmation to another girl from the class, and after each girl’s letter is read out loud, the rest of the girls have a chance to tell that girl what they admire about them. After everyone has gone, the girls take time to write a personal statement about themselves in the shape of their thumbprint to articulate what, who, and whose they are, and what they want to strive for in their future (see photos). This year, on the last day of class, I was also able to surprise each girl a necklace, specifically chosen for them, as a reminder of all those things they learned during the week."
"The girls were so excited about this because the necklaces are so cute and something that they actually want to wear while also serving as a very symbolic and sentimental reminder. I don’t think a day has gone by where I haven’t seen the girls wearing them at school."
WHY PIECES OF ME?
Jamie said she chose Pieces of Me because of her strong connection to the tagline, “Wear Who You Are.” She wanted these girls to stray away from what society wants them to be and remind them that they are driven, compassionate, funny or athletic by themselves.
“In the world we live in today, we are fed so many lies about who we are and what it is about ourselves that make use matter."
"Something as simple as wearing a beautiful piece of jewelry that reminds you the truth about who or what you are, (a strong, intelligent, hard-working, loving, etc. woman), can help shift your mindset and create a new, positive reality for yourself or someone else--who doesn't need some more of that in their life?”
Here are some quotes from the girls who participated in All Things Women:
"I learned about myself, things that I am good at, and things that I still need to work on. It was a great time to think about my life and things that I really enjoy. It was also a time to build the other girls up around me and to teach ourselves to love ourselves and find the good in one another.”
"I learned how to appreciate the other women around me on such a larger scale. There is so much more to women than just their beauty, and I came to realize the wisdom and kindness and gentleness so many girls have around me."
"I learned that I need to be jealous of myself. I also learned that we are all unique in our own special ways, but most importantly we are all children of God whom He loves so very much. I gained a new sense of confidence and excitement for myself and my life."