How McGehee Helps Young Girls Embrace Individuality and Independence :: A Mom’s Perspective

Disclosure :: This sponsored post is brought to you by our friends at Louise S. McGehee School.

How McGehee Helps Young Girls Embrace Individuality and Independence :: A Mom’s Perspective

Leading Women at McGehee
While most recent holiday wish lists were stacked with hoverboards, Baby Yoda figurines, and plush sloths that dance “The Floss,” my nine-year-old daughter’s letter to Santa included a lock-picking kit. Picking locks, after all, is among the first skills an aspiring spy must master.

My daughter’s fascination with espionage started small—decoding messages, collecting disguises—and has grown over the last year, even bleeding over into her schoolwork. She hunted down Who Is…Valerie Plame in her library class and devoured How to Be an International Spy.  At school, Margaret rallied a group of her peers to create a spy club, which spawned a competing spy club, complete with double agents and missions that started at recess and extended to after-care.

Rather than steer her in another direction, Louise S. McGehee School, the independent, all-girls’ school she attends in the Garden District, provides her the freedom and the space to explore her individuality, while ensuring she is academically and socially engaged and challenged. As a former educator and policymaker who believes deeply in every family’s right to choose the best educational setting for their unique child, this is encouraging. It affirms why I ultimately chose to send my children to McGehee.

I was drawn to McGehee’s mission to empower girls to become leaders.

When we began exploring school options, I was drawn to McGehee’s mission to empower girls to become leading women. Though I attended various school settings growing up, both public and independent, I graduated from an all-girls’ high school that shaped the woman, wife, mother, and professional I am today. I hoped to give my children, both girls, the opportunity to explore their identity in a similar setting.

McGehee exceeded our expectations, and both of my daughters are now enrolled there. Since their start, we have observed each of them grow—intellectually, socially, and emotionally—and develop a healthy sense of agency. At McGehee:

  • Our daughters are held to high personal and academic standards. McGehee sets high expectations for its students, challenging them to take academic risks, and supports them to overcome obstacles. Students are guided to make their own decisions and to take personal responsibility for their actions. As a result, my daughters each have a sense of pride in how they manage themselves, and take responsibility for their schoolwork. 
  • Our daughters are exposed to a wide array of enriching activities that build self-efficacy. This includes experiences they might not have encountered otherwise or at least at their age. In my youngest daughter’s three-year-old early childhood class, a master carpenter taught the children basic woodworking skills. They learned to wield a hammer, assemble nuts and bolts, and cut a wooden board with a saw, all while prioritizing safety. In the Upper School, seniors have the opportunity to participate in mentored independent studies akin to an undergraduate thesis. The young women who conduct these studies speak with expertise and confidence about their chosen topic.
  • Our daughters are learning to use social and emotional tools. Now more than ever before, amid a pandemic that has reshaped our daily life and interactions, it’s critical for students to learn how to understand their emotions, manage stress, understand and empathize with others, maintain healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions. McGehee pays as much attention to the social and emotional growth of students as it does academic growth, and our daughters have been equipped with tools to help them manage their feelings and how they treat others. Among the tools our household has embraced is the “trash can.” When we encounter something negative but inconsequential, like a stranger making an unkind comment, we throw it in our mental trash can rather than let it affect our behavior. It’s simple, but effective—for all ages.

McGehee values independence and fosters individuality.

McGehee is a place where girls and young women are taught to think for themselves, to develop their own points of view, to take intellectual risks. It is a place where students are active participants in their learning and where they are supported to achieve their personal best. It is a place where students are encouraged to embrace what makes them individuals and to take pride in self-sufficiency.

I’m confident our daughters will continue to thrive at McGehee and graduate prepared for lifelong success in whatever they choose to pursue. Even espionage.

Contact us to learn more about the McGehee experience for your daughter :: [email protected].

About the Author :: Hannah Dietsch is a working mom to 9-year-old Margaret and 6-year-old Frances and a wife to Michael Balascio. Hannah has worked in K-12
education since she graduated from Tulane University and, after most recently
serving as an Assistant Superintendent and Chief Strategy Officer at the Louisiana State Department of Education, is now a public sector consultant. While originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Hannah and her family love their adopted hometown of New Orleans, where Hannah serves on the boards of the Louise S. McGehee School and the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Hannah also serves on the board of the National Council on Teacher Quality.


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