As we celebrate Black History Month, we are proud to highlight alumna Tamara Shahar Jaffe ’08 and her work as Westridge Dean of Lower & Middle School Student Voices. In her role, she coordinates many aspects of lower and middle school student programming in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), including leading Middle School affinity spaces, helping students develop assemblies about topics that are important to them, facilitating conversations around difficult concepts, teaching sixth grade sessions on civil discourse and the vocabulary of equity work, and more!
There was no hesitation, the Tigers must field a team! And so, we did! How could a girls’ school not jump at this unique opportunity? But to find later that Westridge was the only school in the greater Pasadena area and the only girls’ school in the greater Los Angeles area to field a team, was sort of incredible to me—in not such a good way.
I have these moments in my studio and at Westridge I call "NOW". It is when I am in the flow, or my students are in the flow, engaged, creating, making, struggling, pushing themselves, finding their solutions. One day we were painting water with one-inch paintbrushes, there was calm music playing and I watched them for moment as an observer, overcome with joy, listening to the pffft pffft pffft of the brushes as they covered their big papers with paint. It was messy, blue and green puddles and water cups, kids shoulder to shoulder pffft pffft pffft. This was a NOW. I was filled with joy, flow.
Last week I hosted Thursday afternoon-snack-chat with faculty and staff in my office, a weekly time for colleagues to drop in for some food and conversation. Sometimes we talk about work-life and Westridge, but most often it is a chance to chat about life and the world beyond Westridge and to get to know one another better. On Thursday, the topic of interesting jobs we have held in our lives before Westridge came up—some shared about their experiences working in coffee shops or research labs with mice or data management. The job that I mentioned was one I held in college for three years, as a paid research assistant in a developmental psychology lab, where we studied children’s cognition and language acquisition. The job led to my senior-year research project on language comprehension in 13-month-olds. Besides being adorable (I got to meet about one hundred 13-month-olds from the Chicagoland area!), the work gave me the opportunity to see theories of language acquisition in real time.
Here are some of the resources we draw from as educators, which may also be helpful for you and your daughters!
Please note: Some of the resources, particularly the websites, update continuously and we are in no way encouraging or endorsing their content in its entirety. Some may contain material or subject matter not suitable for younger children. Please use your discretion when viewing.
SheHeroes.org. Empowering young girls of all backgrounds to dream big, explore their interests and passionately pursue non-traditional careers
MAKERS. A storytelling platform for the trailblazing women of today and tomorrow, featuring original videos and hundreds of MAKERS interviews.
Miss Representation. A documentary that exposes how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. Warning: contains some graphic images.
SPARK. A movement by girls for girls against the sexualization, objectification, and violence against women in the media.
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. A research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to influence the need to dramatically improve gender balance, reduce stereotyping, and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.
Women's Media Center. Trains women and girls to become media savvy, curates original content from female writers, and monitors and calls out sexism in media.
Rachel Simmons and Claire Sannini on Resilience. Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, speaks about teaching girls from an early age to be emotionally resilient, and how our culture sends young girls the wrong messages. She is joined by Claire Sannini, an 8th grade student who speaks about her tough experiences with girls her age and how she had to be resilient in order to change her situation and be happy with her life.
Drew Dudley on Everyday Leadership. We have all changed someone’s life—usually without even realizing it. In this funny TED talk, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other’s lives.
Common Sense Media. Kids of all ages are swiping and scrolling, totally transfixed by screens of all sizes. If you have questions on how to take control of the technology in your kids' lives, you came to the right place.