A Lifetime of Lessons from a Gold Award Girl Scout Project
Photo Credit: Đằng Nguyễn/Shutterstock
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a Girl Scout. From Brownies to earning my Gold Award to the lifetime membership my mom, Barbara Greene [Editor's Note: Two days later, the author's mother published this piece on CircleAround], gifted me several years ago, I have only ever known myself as a Girl Scout.
Little did I know that my Gold Award project, completed in 2005, would serve as a foundational experience, informing my career in education. As a Senior Girl Scout in Texas, I worked in partnership with a local elementary school to hold a uniform drive, fundraise with a variety of local organizations, and create a bilingual resource booklet, containing information about local organizations able to provide additional support for families in need. Working with the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) over 10 years ago planted a powerful seed regarding the importance of collaborating with schools and families to enhance the educational experience for all students.
While the Gold Award project marks one particular moment in time, the skills and vision of this project have persisted throughout all aspects of my day-to-day work with undergraduate students preparing to become elementary teachers at the University of Southern Mississippi, and involvement in professional organizations committed to cultivating socially just education. Furthermore, Girl Scouts' commitment to fueling go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders (G.I.R.L.) is sprinkled throughout the courses I teach, the meetings I orchestrate, the research I conduct, and the questions I ask.
In addition to my work in teacher education, my research and teaching explores feminist ways of knowing and being in science. Whether it was in the form of earning badges or selling cookies, Girl Scouts is one of the first opportunities where I was unintentionally invited to explore feminist values and the complex work of education. I am looking forward to continuing this powerful Girl Scout tradition with my own daughter for years to come.
Dr. Maria Wallace is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education and affiliate faculty in the Women’s & Gender Studies program at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, who committed to cultivating equitable education experiences through her teaching, research, and service to the field. She has been in Girl Scouts from Brownies to earning her Gold Award, and is a current lifetime member.