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Elizabeth Crawford Leads NC Cohort of Girl Rising Educators

Friday, May 06, 2022

WCE Associate Professor Elizabeth Crawford has been a partner of Girl Rising since its inception in 2014. The education non-profit began with a film about girls’ equal access to education, and has grown to be an organization of 30,000 educators in 12 countries that are using research-proven educational programming and storytelling to engage students and inform them about girls’ rights, barriers, and solutions to global issues like gender inequality and poverty.

Over the past several years, Crawford has integrated the original film and other materials into her social studies methods and instructional design courses at the Watson College. In December, she was selected to lead North Carolina’s first cohort of Girl Rising Educators. The Educator Cohort Program seeks to support teachers in their use of the Girl Rising educational resources, build a community of educators who can inspire each other, and expand ways the materials can be used creatively in and out of the classroom.

Six teachers at schools in Onslow, Buncombe and Guilford counties are participating in the inaugural NC cohort. During the spring semester, each teacher implemented a Girl Rising lesson/unit with a culminating action such as a social justice project, public art exhibition, letter-writing campaign or performance.

As an example, Amanda Kizziah, a 7th-grade social studies teacher at Hunters Creek Middle School in Onslow County, brought Girl Rising into her formal history curriculum through an exploration of women’s experiences during the Holocaust and World War II.  By making comparisons between historical and contemporary female figures like Anne Frank and the story of Amina from Afghanistan, students developed a deeper understanding of concepts like what it means to be a bystander and upstander. The culminating project entailed students creating art to inform the public about pressing issues related to educating girls in developing countries.

Crawford said the Girl Rising program is effective because It helps teachers and their students to creatively and thoughtfully address global issues in their classrooms and communities.

“Authentic human stories shared through film (like those of Girl Rising) are a powerful medium to develop students’ issues awareness, empathy and perspective-taking, and understanding about global challenges like climate change, gender inequality, and poverty,” she said. “As demonstrated by our NC cohort educators, Girl Rising stories and other resources can be readily integrated into the curriculum while addressing the North Carolina Standard Course of Study across disciplines. Through this initiative, I’ve witnessed how eager teachers are to collaborate and to design original curricula that connect to their students’ lives while broadening their worldview and motivation to teach others about issues affecting their communities and beyond.

Crawford is one of four educators in the U.S. selected to serve as leaders for Girl Rising’s initial Educator Cohort Program. The cohort leaders recently met with Girl Rising CEO Christina Lowery to share updates on their work.  

“Witnessing, with my work with Girl Rising and as a mom of three, all that teachers have had to shoulder the last two years, I'm full of gratitude. Teachers are my superheroes!” Lowery said. “I was blown away to hear Elizabeth and her fellow cohort members talk about their work – such as using Girl Rising to make connections to historical events like World War II and the Holocaust in social studies classes to analyzing and presenting data on global poverty girls’ access to education during mathematics lessons. I now want to share these incredible ideas for dynamic learning with teachers everywhere.”  

In addition to Kizziah, participants in the inaugural NC Educators Cohort are Golda Fox Strelecki  ’15M, an art teacher in Buncombe County; Sandra Lubchenko, AIG teacher in grades 3-5 at Brooks Global School in Guilford County; Sharron Mohr, librarian and media coordinator at Swansboro Middle School; Nicole Crampton, assistant director of the Onslow County Learning Center; and Twila Johnson, social worker, also at the Onslow County Learning Center.

A summer 2022 exhibit is planned at Randall Library to share information about the Girl Rising organization, raise awareness of the issue of girls’ equal access to education, and showcase some of the projects and students’ work completed over the spring semester.

Educators interested in the Girl Rising program are encouraged to watch the original Girl Rising film, review the  GR Brief, register for the free Girl Rising Education resources, sign up to join their mailing list or follow them on Twitter.

For more information, including education resources and case studies, visit the Girl Rising website.