What We Do
Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW) began as a dream of volunteer, Judy Girard, former Food Network & HGTV President, was inspired after years of mentoring girls in a Student Leadership Network (SLN) classroom in East Harlem. She was motivated by the success of single-sex schools and saw first-hand what a difference access to high quality education made in a young girl’s life. Believing that a school for young girls, modeled on the East Harlem school would thrive in Wilmington, Girard assembled what would be key stakeholders to make this dream a reality. In 2013, stakeholders visited New York to explore replication in a smaller city with scarcer community resources would occur. Volunteers garnered community support, planned curriculum and hired key staff while identifying needs of at-risk youth and identify community gaps. In 2015 a charter was granted for GLOW to serve at-risk girls in grades six through twelve. In August 2016, the first class of 100 sixth grade girls began school at GLOW. GLOW is North Carolina’s only single gender public charter school with a focus on closing the achievement and opportunity gaps among low income families, the 6th thru 12th grade school is part of a nationwide network of 21 groundbreakings schools in the SLN. GLOW Academy curriculum is centered on STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math). The core instructional approach is inquiry-based learning, which complements the college preparatory culture and develops students’ ability to think independently, analyze and problem-solve. This approach encourages creativity, collaboration and critical thinking, all of which are necessary competencies needed in the modern workplace while empowering students to reach their potential. GLOW Academy believes in “whole girl education” as it leads to the greatest outcomes for success for young girls in poverty. Less than 60% of at-risk girls in poverty graduate from high school in the United States and less than 10% of these graduates go on to college. GLOW is based on a 26 year old model, founded in East Harlem. Data from our sister schools in the SLN show that the rate of high school graduation for at-risk girls in the network increases from 60% to 96%; and nearly 100% of those students enroll in college. Once in college, students have a graduation rate 400% higher than their at-risk peers by graduating at the same rate as white, middle class women. Our student body is predominantly comprised of low-income minorities who live in urban, high-poverty neighborhoods. Low income is defined at GLOW Academy by qualifying for free or reduced lunch, currently 82% of GLOW girls meet that threshold. GLOW NC also provides Learning Circle and Summer Leadership Academy which are STEM immersion programs that are provided at no cost to local fourth and fifth grade students. These programs are utilized as recruitment tools for GLOW Academy but also to provide otherwise non existent access to STEM learning opportunities.
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