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Sonora Elementary School in Springdale Wins East Initiative Founder's Award-These Kids are Amazing! - Women Lead Arkansas

Sonora Elementary School in Springdale Wins East Initiative Founder’s Award–These Kids are Amazing!

Have you heard of the East Initiative? Their mission is to “Provide a unique and relevant learning environment that challenges students to radically improve their personal, social, and economic value to their community, region and nation.” Yes! We love that last part especially. And especially for girls. Women Lead Arkansas is working to teach girls and women that they already have value, how to tap into it, and how to ignore anyone who says they are not equally capable.

A little history, from the East Initiative website:

“EAST began with one classroom in Greenbrier, Arkansas in 1996. Former law-enforcement officer Tim Stephenson was in his first year of teaching, and having had experience with “disconnected” youth, had been assigned a classroom of “at risk” students. In seeking a point of interest for them, Stephenson proposed an outing to a spot near the school where students often went to skip classes. The wooded area included a creek and a pond. It was pointed out that it would be muddy crossing the creek. The first EAST project turned out to be a bridge across that creek.

The students became enthusiastic with the success of their bridge and proposed additional structures. One student offered his father’s CAD expertise and Stephenson suggested the students get appropriate software and learn to use it themselves. Thus, the technology component was born.

Realizing that the K-12 education system lacked the needed technology as well instruction in using it, Stephenson sought help from an Arkansas technology firm that introduced him to national and international resources. The academic-business partnerships that were formed became the foundation for a new and relevant model of learning, and the results have been astounding.”

In Arkansas, young girls are actively steered away from STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and toward traditionally female professions such as teaching and nursing. Programs like East can provide some of the tools and resources to our girls to pursue their interests and chase their dreams.

Watch the video below to hear about Founder’s Award Winner Sonora Elementary’s project. THESE GIRLS ARE IN FOURTH GRADE! It is hard to articulate how proud and excited we are to watch these young girls.