The initial Girls Rock event took place at Paxon Middle School. Members of Paxon’s Literacy Leadership team worked diligently to provide an event that would focus on literacy and positive self-image for young ladies. The students of Paxon Middle brought mothers, grandmothers, and other women from their family to participate.
The open forum event began with Paxon’s reading coach speaking to the audience about her Love of Literacy, and then concluded with discussion questions moderated to panel guests. Community leaders such as Melanie Lawson shared personal accounts about the importance of literacy and self-worth.
The second year of Girls Rock was an extraordinary success. With the goal to “Take back our community one girl at a time”, the founders of Pearls of Perfection worked tirelessly to reach as many young ladies as possible. Eugene Butler, Southside and Northwestern Middle Schools were all in attendance for the 2nd Girls Rock event, which focused on literacy and self-esteem. The open forum continued with community leaders guiding the discussion segment. Co-anchor of CBS47 News, Dawn Lopez, moderated. Tameca Johson, Executive News Producer served as guest speaker with a moving story of courage, motivation, and steadfast determination to succeed.
The symposium was well received by over two hundred community leaders, parents, students and volunteers and encouraged by all involved to schedule another one. It cemented the need for Ta’Vianna Bilingslea, Patricia Jackson and Desirae Royal to continue the work of planning this annual event.
Although adult women have surpassed their male counterparts in learning at the college level, disparities still occur. The difference moves into college and career choices when girls score higher in reading than boys, and boys score higher in math than girls. Female students do not have a significant representation in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) related fields. Girls Rock 2013 continued the focus on literacy with an initiative to incorporate S.T.E.A.M.
Girls Rock 2013 exceeded our expectations. April Bell, a Director of College/Career Planning from College Board, set the tone as the guest speaker with a captivating story on how literacy plays a vital role in her life. Students from various neighboring schools came out to participate in an event that consisted of Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools; Dr. Nikolai Vitti opened the program by sharing his childhood experiences of living in a single parent home underscoring the belief that literacy is a spring board into S.T.E.A.M. careers. Additionally, leaders in perspective S.T.E.A.M careers shared life lessons as Dawn Lopez moderated questions to guest and female ensembles performed to Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”. The historical Ritz Theater teetered at capacity, with over 450 middle school students, teachers, parents and community leaders. This inspiring event focused on closing the gap which exists for women in S.T.E.A.M careers. Through this event Ms. Bell had all students pledge to continue higher education. The best is yet to come. As Ta’Vianna Billingslea, Patricia Jackson, Dr. Sandra Jackson and Desirae Royal, Pearls of Perfection, Inc. Executive Board, forge onward. Our goal is to continue to focus on literacy with an emphasis on S.T.E.A.M. As disparities still exist between genders, we are challenged to create equity. Girls Rock will be the destination of change for literacy and S.T.E.A.M related college and career exposures. Girls Rock 2015 will be an unforgettable event.