Lean on Me: The Girls’ Group at TDS

New to Tampa Day School this year, the Girls’ Group provides a fun and safe environment for middle school girls to explore important, everyday issues that affect their lives.

The group is co-led by three dedicated teachers at Tampa Day School: Cristina Lentz, Renee Koutras, and Samantha Weiland. In addition to having a passion for teaching children and adolescents, Ms. Weiland, Mrs. Lentz, and Ms. Koutras also strive to be positive role models in their students’ lives. “This is one way that we can foster resiliency in our students so that they are equipped to deal with whatever comes their way,” stated Ms. Koutras.

The Girls’ Group hopes to be a place of unconditional support for these students, while simultaneously increasing each girl’s ability to handle, cope with, and bounce back from stressful situations. Providing them with an outlet will hopefully allow them to develop into young women who are able to express themselves and respect not only others, but more importantly, themselves.

Despite the group being relatively new, each member seems to be enjoying the experiences each week. Hope, an 8th grader, commented, “I think that it is a good way to get to know each other and get to express our inner expressions and feelings…all I have to say is that I feel comfortable, safe, fun, and calm.” After two weeks, the co-leaders are well on their way to reaching their goal of creating a ‘safe zone’ as Emily, an 8th grader claimed, “The Girls’ Group is a safe place to talk about our problems.”

Throughout the year, the group will address topics such as bullying, relationships, body image, nutrition, self-esteem, and coping with stress. Mrs. Lentz commented, “Our goal is to create a ‘safe zone’ where the girls can share their thoughts, while forming healthy relationships with their peers and teachers.” The girls meet every Friday and begin each meeting with a check-in, followed by a discussion and activities related to that week’s topic. In addition, the Girls’ group will collectively choose a charity to donate their time and money raised through various fundraisers. The leaders believe it is a truly humbling experience to directly give back time and effort to organizations, in addition to contributing monetarily. Every week the girls seem more excited to share their experiences and create a plan to give back to the community.

Although the Girls’ Group is a new elective at Tampa Day School, you can be sure it’s here to stay!