Head's Visionary Speech from 11th Annual SGS Benefit Luncheon

At SGS young women stand up, stand out and stand together – every day and in every way!

They Stand Up. Our students take action. They stand up for themselves, for their beliefs and convictions, and for others. They take on leadership and when they hit stumbling blocks and make mistakes, they learn to stand up again for another day.

They Stand Out. We encourage girls to excel, academically, athletically, and artistically. When you combine confidence with competence, girls feel free to shine through their words, their voices and through their very hard work.

They Stand Together. We are a positive place where girls work as a team and work through issues with each other. They stand together as a hopeful community, in partnership with others, and as advocates for people in need, and they join a sisterhood that extends well beyond our walls.

Seattle Girls’ School started in the same great tradition as many other organizations like Mt. Holyoke, Wellesley, Barnard, and Spelman: one woman had a vision of an educational experience for her young daughter, and realized she could not find the school she imagined. Sharon Hammel shared her vision with her family, who not only told her she’d better get started if she wanted the school to be ready for her daughter Lena in 6th grade, but also helped her in many ways—from scouting for school sites to connecting her with like-minded community members, many of whom are here today.

Sharon stood up, she stood out, and today we all stand together with her!

Over 300 SGS graduates are now thriving in high schools and universities all over the United States and beyond. They serve as the ultimate “proof points” for both our curriculum and that founding vision. SGS alums are easy to spot at those schools, those college campuses, and soon at your businesses, non-profits, courtrooms, and medical centers.

Now tighten your seat belts and prepare for blast off, as I help you understand why SGS is rocket fuel for middle school girls! I may challenge your own deeply held beliefs about a critical time in life – adolescence!

So what does the SGS experience look like day to day?

From our Central District launching pad, we use our city, our region and our world as laboratories for learning.

Each 6th grader develops an understanding of her own body by building a full-size clay human from the inside out, and presenting her medical and anatomical knowledge to physicians from UW, Seattle Children’s, Virginia Mason, and Swedish.

Our 7th graders learn about government and the justice system at King County courts through our mock trial, at our State Capitol, and with a CLOSE UP view of that “other Washington” over spring break—and then they put their learning to work by launching their own Pay-It-Forward projects.

In the spirit of Amelia Earhart, our 8th graders go where no woman has gone before through a simulated, 3-hour mission, to Mars, the moon, or wherever else their imagination takes them.

Last, but certainly not least, our 5th grade class just returned from an overnight on Puget Sound that used sailing as a “vehicle” for exploring physics and mathematics … they incorporated ART by filming stop-action videos as they navigated their voyages before captaining their ships! This adds up to the latest educational acronym – STEAM – Science, engineering, and mathematics … adding an “A for the arts” directly into the mix. Here is some interesting data – students who participate in the arts consistently outperform non-arts-focused peers on the math section of the SAT.

If you can’t quite imagine students experiencing academic content in these collaborative, innovative and creative ways … come tour our school!
I will personally show you how we do it, and you will see girls stretching themselves and building up resilience, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Come see our Adventure and Wellness class, our thriving music and arts programs that feature an 8th grade art exhibit at Seattle Center and a girls’ rock band fully equipped by Pearl Jam!

Come see our girls in Wednesday Workshops that feature robotics, welding and wood-working as well as fashion design, glee, and drill team.

Come see middle school students experiencing mathematics and science AS mathematicians and scientists – working together, in the field, solving problems that NO ONE of them could solve alone!

… come tour our school and you will never again think of middle school in quite the same way!

This kind of school, this empowerment of girls is impossible without access; and your contribution today will help us maintain our remarkable commitment to financial aid, ensuring that many of Seattle’s young women have access to our school. In our short 13 year lifetime, we have distributed …. In need-based financial aid …over 5 million dollars!

It is our vision that these young women will go on to make the kind of impact that Phyllis Campbell and Adriane Brown have made in their respective fields. Beyond that, we hope they become great people like Ms. Campbell who on her visit to the school taught our girls that feeling fearful before a challenge does not mean you lack courage. And Ms. Brown who shared her 3rd grade picture with them – now that’s courageous! Ms. Brown also shared her journey as a leader so the girls could see themselves in her story.

When we empower girls, we are making a very smart investment in the future; and the inter-generational equity that we are passing on here is invaluable! We don’t know yet … what our next great generational challenge will be…. But we certainly know that we can’t afford to leave half our collective “brain power” on the sidelines!

We must not overlook the power of ONE or the power of being THE FIRST! Each SGS student reminds us that empowering just one girl has the potential to change my future, your future, and our nation and planet.