Educating Girls: Work That Matters


I was recently asked to reflect on why I spent my forty-year career as an educator in girls’ schools, focused on the issues related to girls, their learning, and their well-being. For me, it is simple: this work is both a cause and a mission.

The work of creating, building, and sustaining schools designed for girls actively affirms the principles in which I believe: collaboration, commitment, and contribution to a worthy cause. Leaders in the arena with whom I have partnered over the years exemplify qualities that I admire—integrity, resilience, grace, compassion, and vision. While most can agree that the mission of educating girls has never been more vital—historical events and cultural practices demonstrate that—for the foreseeable future, demanding equity for girls in the educational realm will remain a political cause, fraught in the multiple ways such causes are. And this mission, these partners, and that compelling tension are why the work draws me.

This work must be done on a local, regional, national, and global level. This work is never-ending, requiring patience, grit, and stamina. But, most critically, this work centers on girls—real girls whose lives are transformed because of the environments girls’ schools provide. Indeed, I am indebted to thousands of girls who have energized me with their drive, intelligence, creativity, and optimism. For me, these girls are like the thread that William Stafford writes about in his poem, The Way It Is, which tells my story:

“There’s a thread that you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it, you can’t get lost.”

The work of empowering girls is that “thread” Stafford describes. Over the years, I have persistently explained the power of an all-girls school in some of the most unusual situations and to all manner of individuals. I have been dumbfounded that others can’t quickly grasp the reality of what I see and feel when I visit a girls-only school. Yet, I have never been lost over the years as this work is of the very best sort, with compatriots of the very best type. Those in the arena know we are working on the side of “right.”

My colleagues on this journey see each other as traveling companions who “are walking the talk,” bringing their passion and understanding to the critical work of advocating for girls. We know our collaboration on best practices is good for girls everywhere. In fact, I imagine if we all stood and gripped hands right now, our energy, our power, our influence would circumnavigate the world. How many can say that about their life’s work?

Maya Angelou said it best: “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” I was lucky, and my good fortune is that my fantasy was one imagined by hundreds of others, too: #EducatingGirlsMattersToTheWorld. Thank goodness for the girls of the world, many are following that important, unchangeable “thread,” as we know this journey matters to real girls in real ways in real time.

Trudy Hall, Former Board President, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools and 2017-2018 Recipient of The Ransome Prize

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  1. Mary

    I agree! Raising women to truly believe in themselves and their God-given talents is truly an amazing task. I think creating an atmosphere of relationship in the classroom where each individual girl feels supported and loved in who she is to her very core is key to helping these girls become the women who make a difference in the world. Teachers have the great task of being that support system for the students outside the home and can model for the girls what it is to be confident and to teach them/prepare them for the real world so they can make a difference.