Kansas School Is the Only Middle School in the Country to Offer a Women's Studies Course
Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Magnet Middle School located in Wichita, Kansas is the only middle school in the country to offer a women’s studies and girls leadership conference program for its students.
The school started offering the courses back in 2016 after the faculty and staff urged the administration to offer Women’s Studies as a potential elective. Many faculty members at Mayberry who urged administration to make such a move enrolled in Women’s Studies courses back in their college years.
Mayberry also offers a leadership conference/school club that meets weekly after school called Girls UNITED. The club utilizes curriculum from Second Step and Expect Respect to address issues in teen girls' lives.
Jennifer Pillich, the sponsor of the Girls UNITED leadership conference at Mayberry Middle School, spoke with the Bipartisan Feminist Project in an interview:
Q: What started the program?
A: Strong need for support with our girls, specifically in the 11-15 age group. There are a lot of influences in their lives. The opportunities at Mayberry allow our girls to feel empowered with education and resources to help them throughout their journey as a teenager.
Q: Is Mayberry the only Middle School to offer the program?
A: At this time, yes.
Q: Have any of the students benefited from the program?
A: Absolutely. We have 7 students which are currently volunteering for community programs which have visited our club.
In March of this year, Girls UNITED had guest speaker Jasmine Guy speak at the conference. Guy is known for her roles in A Different World and Harlem Nights. Girls UNITED has explored topics such as positive body image, self-esteem, the importance of diversity, and career options for women and girls.
Many believe that Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Magnet Middle School is “ahead of the curve” for offering women's studies programs and that it is possible for other middle schools across the country to follow suit.