Year two of Smart-Girl at Scott Carpenter Middle School in Adams County has six groups up and running with a total of 83 enthusiastic participants. Smart-Girl runs every Tuesday morning for an hour, and the girls look forward to it the rest of the week. They know that hour could be filled with silliness, laughter, tears, compassion, questions, art, games, aha moments, deep conversation, hand holding and hugging.
School counselor Gary Frantz brought Smart-Girl to Scott Carpenter after being exposed to the program at the Colorado School Counselor Association conference. He attended a presentation on bullying put on by Smart-Girl and immediately realized how beneficial the program could be at his school. “The Smart-Girl program has allowed us to address the problem of relational bullying on a large scale,” said Frantz. “Before Smart-Girl, we were trying to mediate conflicts one by one. Now we have an efficient and effective way to support healthy relationships among a large number of girls.” In addition to his role as school counselor, Frantz now serves as Smart-Girl Program Manager at Scott Carpenter. His implementation of Smart-Girl, among many other notable achievements, earned him the honor Middle School Counselor of the Year this past November.
With the unwavering support of Principal Kelly Williams, Smart-Girl is positively impacting Scott Carpenter in many ways. “The biggest change I’ve seen is that the girls view each other more realistically,” remarked Frantz. “They see what’s on the inside rather than drawing conclusions from outward appearances. Girls are kinder to each other, and they are more likely to talk to each other directly rather than behind each others’ backs.” The number of referrals and suspensions also seems to have dropped since the addition of Smart-Girl to the schedule.
Guides for the Scott Carpenter Smart-Girl program come from Ranum High School and Westminster High School. The near-peer relationships between the middle school girls and their high school counterparts is a key factor in the success of the program. “The middle school girls develop a trusting relationship with their high school mentors and with each other,” said Frantz. “This allows them to learn to support each other; not tear each other down. As they begin to talk honestly with one another, they learn how to be tolerant and empathetic.”
Thanks to Gary Frantz’s leadership and implementation of Smart-Girl, the girls at Scott Carpenter Middle School are building more confidence, compassion and camaraderie.