‘I Am Me’ Group Helps PSLA Girls Develop Self-Confidence, Community

     Published on 5/6/19   Tagged under:    District News    PSLA @ Fowler   

This is a photo of seven girls huddled together in a classroom, smiling at the camera.“You may not always have a comfortable life, and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once; but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have. Because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
A group of young women gathered at desks in a PSLA classroom after school, listening as one of them read a Michelle Obama quote from a book called ‘Great Quotes from Great Women.’
She paused for the message to sink in and then repeated the quote again.
“How can we apply this to our lives?” she asked.
This is how every meeting of the “I Am Me” group – a weekly club intended to help young women build a positive mindset and give back to the community – begins.
The group was officially formed last school year, and kind of by accident, advisor Brenda Buckley explained.
“A few years ago, there was a group of girls who would visit me during lunch or after school,” Ms. Buckley said. “They were not necessarily friends beforehand, but they were comfortable with being in my room for lunch or after school. Over the years, we found ourselves helping each other with issues that were going on in our lives and goals we wanted to reach.”
The group organized teambuilding trips together and would often leave each other positive messages through sticky notes or a group chat. When that informal group of girls became seniors, they noticed that younger girls were coming to the classroom during lunch, much like they used to. They decided it was time to create an official group – and I Am Me was formed!  
Each year, the group organizes various community service projects – the most notable of which is the school’s Zumbathon. This year, they are working to collect toiletries for We Rise Above the Streets, as well as toys, food and supplies for Helping Hounds. These projects help them feel a sense of purpose – and the group provides them with a sense of community.
“We’re like a huge family,” sophomore Andrea Sevilla said. “I was shy as a freshman… it’s scary to talk to people when you’re in a new school. But the group brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me make friends.”
“When we need somebody, we’re there for each other,” junior Melvianishua Rodriguez said. “That helps build my self-confidence.”
Ms. Buckley said the group truly is a sisterhood. She monitors students’ grades, keeps in touch with their families and even takes the girls on college visits. Her ultimate goal is that the group will help the young women explore how to establish a life based on personal strength, self-confidence, connection to others, involvement in the community and empowerment – encouraging the girls to each be independent while celebrating each other’s’ successes.
“There was one time when I was struggling bad in class,” junior Celia Cruz explained. “I was overwhelmed one day, and I was caught cheating. Ms. Buckley talked to me about it, and brought it up with the I Am Me group. They helped me through it. A while later, I saw another girl struggling, and I offered for her to come to the group, too. I knew what it felt like, and I knew we could help her.”
 We look forward to watching the impact of the I Am Me group as it continues to expand!