In this month of celebrating women, some Cincinnati Country Day School seventh grade students have been empowering themselves and one another to Rule their Own eXperiences. Through their involvement in ROX, 10 students spend one hour a week together for 20 weeks to talk through topics such as self-awareness, team-building, healthy communication, and building effective friendships and relationships.
"There are so many cool things about this program, which is all about female empowerment and raising our girls to rule their own experiences," said Alexis Nordrum, school psychologist and licensed ROX facilitator. "Basically, we help girls recognize the messages that they hear regarding girls' abilities and opportunities and we give them the tools they need to create their own messages and narratives while also supporting one another."
The students also talk about navigating social media, body image, stress, pressure, and the media. They work with one another and their adult facilitator – Nordrum – to help plan for their futures by considering their academic and career development as well as their leadership opportunities.
This is the first year that Country Day is piloting the program. Launched in 2006, ROX's mission is "to create generations of confident girls who control their own relationships, experiences, decisions and futures." So far this school year, the students have met during lunch or recess once a week to discuss topics like redefining beauty, body image, and self-defense. A guest speaker recently visited the group and spoke about her career and the obstacles of being a female in technology industry.
Lauren Legette graduated from Country Day in 2007 and has gone on to have a varied and exciting career with tech-forward companies like the Food Network, Uber, and Facebook. She spoke to the students about her experiences and answered their questions about her role in her current position at Facebook as well as how she got to where she is today.
"Ninety percent of the meetings I'm in, I'm the only woman," said Legette. "On top of that, I'm the only Black woman. I serve on a number of boards to address this issue and am actively involved in the opportunities to change this landscape and narrative."
She said it was important to remind yourself daily that you are adding value simply by being part of the conversation and by being yourself. "Regardless of your age or gender, be prepared and coach yourself every day that you have skills that are valuable, and that you can make a difference and contribute in a meaningful way. And do one thing that scares you every day – the most successful people operate outside of their comfort zones. Sign up to learn a new skill; stretch yourself because that is where the real growth and impactful learning happens."
Legette encouraged the ROX girls to get involved in the myriad activities at Country Day. "Country Day is a melting pot of people and it is an incredible investment in yourself to explore the opportunities presented to you by simply being part of this amazing community." She credits her experiences at Country Day with her ability to be involved in a mixture of activities and her passion for contributing to her community, emphasizing that "during my time at Country Day I figured out how to balance my extracurriculars and academics, which is like balancing my work and personal life as an adult. I learned to work well with others and when you get into the professional world you cannot avoid that. I'm still involved in a lot of things and I learned that at Country Day."
ROX is a 20-week research and evidence-based curriculum that includes weekly goals, objectives, activities and a step-by-step lesson plan. It is aligned with the national standards for School Counselors, School Social Workers and School Psychologists and Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiatives. For more information about ROX, please visit https://rulingourexperiences.com/.
Left to right: Lauren Leggett (Milford), Samantha Wu (Blue Ash), Madeline Ungerleider (Loveland), Cailey Kohler (Goshen), Delaney Gorman (Loveland), Caroline Connelly (Anderson), LC Cicchinelli (Indian Hill), Shiloh Christophe (Liberty Township), Iris Weizer (Hyde Park) and Alexis Nordrum (Blue Ash).