My daughter, Bryna, is nineteen years old. I’ve always been conscious of the need for positive role models in her life. I’ve encouraged her to form relationships with her grandmothers, her aunt, my very dear friend Tina, and other strong women in our lives.
The girls I know spend a lot of time imagining who they will become one day. As a teacher for eleven years, and now as a building principal for seven, I’m always aware of my role as a possible example of a healthy, happy, strong adult. Too many of the young women we work with don’t see a happy adult and value themselves too little. Maybe it’s being aware of this lack for other kids that’s caused me to look for role models for my own daughter.
I think the thing I’ve said most often to our young women who are considering dropping out of school is,
“You need to get a diploma so that you can be strong and take care of yourself and your kids. So that you never have to rely upon anyone else. You need to always be able to point to the door when your significant other treats you beyond reason and say ‘there’s the door’. You never want to have to stay in a bad situation because you can’t take care of yourself financially.”
Helping to raise strong young women in our community has been important to me for as long as I can remember. It’s part of what motivated me to enter the teaching profession in the first place.
I’m glad to see my daughter spend this week in Pittsburgh with the best role model I know. My mom, Donna Lee, has always been my strongest supporter, the person who’s always believed in me and expected the best of me. She raised me to be independent, to make my own decisions, to make the most of every day. I’m happy for her influence and time with my other strong supporter, Bryna.
Whether related or not, we need to support each other. And we need to seek out those young women who are still deciding who they’ll be one day and help them to figure it out.