Washington University Announces Plans to Sponsor a STEM Charter School for Girls

Hawthorn Ideas 9Washington University in St. Louis has announced that it is sponsoring a new charter school for girls with a concentration in STEM fields. The Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015 at a yet to be determined location. Initially, the school will enroll students in the sixth and seventh grade. A new class for the next higher grade will be added each year for five years. Eventually, the school hopes to enroll 500 girls in grades 6 through 12.

The school will offer a college preparatory curriculum with special emphasis on STEM disciplines. Students will wear uniforms and meet daily with a faculty adviser. Beginning in 10th grade, students will have regular meetings with a college counselor. Washington University will help train teachers, develop curriculum, and provide student tutors and mentors. Tuition will be free.

Stillman-Mary-DanforthThe school’s founder is Mary Danforth Stillman, daughter of U.S. Senator John Danforth and niece of William H. Danforth, the former chancellor of Washington University. Stillman explains why she believes a single-sex school can be important: “An all-girls school beginning at the sixth grade captures girls as they head into the tumultuous adolescent years. It is at this age that girls often begin to lose some of their earlier confidence, and their self-esteem can begin to waver. Middle-school girls who once saw themselves as curious and capable students, particularly in math and science, often begin deferring to boys.”

“The single-sex option is out there for people who can pay, and now we are saying, ‘Let’s provide that option to students with limited financial resources,’” Stillman said. “At Hawthorn, every leadership role will be filled by a girl. Every classroom discussion will be led by a girl. Hawthorn girls will be encouraged to reach their highest potential in and out of the classroom, and our faculty and staff will provide the support and encouragement they need to realize that potential.”

Stillman has been serving as a lecturer at the university. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School.

Filed Under: STEM Fields


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  1. Debra Touchton says:

    What a great idea. Your concept is one that I believe we should develop in other universities. Good luck.

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