As a former high school teacher, a current college instructor, and an education activist, I was thrilled to hear President Obama’s comments about the importance of a high school diploma and some higher education during his presidential address to congress.
An excerpt from an article in the Los Angeles Times:
The president, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, said his administration would provide the support needed to give the U.S. the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. He said there was a vital need for Americans to complete more years of education if the nation is to compete globally.
“This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education — from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.”
By one measure used by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2005 the U.S. had a 76% high school graduation rate, putting it behind Hungary, Greece, Ireland and the Slovak Republic. To change that trend, Obama made the extraordinary call for Americans who presumably haven’t finished high school, or only have high school diplomas, to commit to getting an additional year of school.
I worked with a Board of Directors last spring to found Circle de Luz, a non-profit created with a mission of radically empowering young Latinas to finish high school and puruse further education. The girls are selected as scholarship recipients and Circle de Luz participants in seventh grade so that their expectation of themselves as high school graduate and future higher education students is prominent in their mind as they begin to make choices that will impact their ability to make those dreams a reality. Circle de Luz was recently covered in the local paper for a neat program that board member Anna Freuler spearheaded with help from Mija Carissa Roman and a local businessman. Here’s the story!
Latinas get lessons in surviving outdoors
James Martin Middle School 7th graders and their mentors learn to dig fire pits and have cricket snacks.
Terry Vaughan had three words for the girls who were about to trek into the woods off McAuley Road:
“Do not panic,” the former commando with the British Royal Marines said.
Vaughan owns a Huntersville team-building firm that more typically takes corporate workers into the wilderness.
The eight Latina girls he led in all-day survival training are in a scholarship program called Circle de Luz (Circle of Light) started by Rosie Molinary of Davidson.
The program will shift to a different region of the country each year, but Molinary stayed close to home with the first round of recipients, all seventh-graders at James Martin Middle School on IBM Drive in Charlotte’s University area.
On the chilly morning of Jan. 31, the girls matched up with Lake Norman-area professional women who served as their mentors. They learned how to mark a trail so they wouldn’t get lost and to work in teams to build shelters.
Vaughan calls his training program for women “Princess Survival,” but nothing about this day was dainty.
They dug fire pits and scoured for limbs and edible plants. Few, if any, dared eat the crickets that Vaughan brought in a bag to munch on. I think only I did, and just to save face.
None of the work was easy. Read the rest of the article here…
More information on Circle de Luz (from the article):
Rosie Molinary, a Davidson College graduate, full-time writer and former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher, started the program to encourage more Latina girls to pursue college, university or trade school.
She began a “giving circle” of scholarship contributors through an e-mail blast last year to women she knows across the country. She raised enough for eight $5,000 scholarships, to be given to girls once they complete high school. Female mentors help them along the way.
To donate to or learn more about the program, go to http://www.circledeluz.org
or e-mail Rosie Molinary at firstname.lastname@example.org.