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Seneca High School Begins New Girls Mentoring Program, Girls in Ascent (GIA)

Seneca High School Begins New Girls Mentoring Program, Girls in Ascent (GIA)


Girls in Ascent (GIA) is a new girls mentoring program at Seneca High School which was developed by Seneca math teacher Ms. Jenn Denn. Ms. Denn asked five Seneca teachers of various ages and backgrounds to mentor two girls each during the 2019-2020 school year.  10 girls were selected from over 50 who were nominated by Seneca teachers. 

Ms. Denn developed the program after hearing former First Lady Michelle Obama speak in November, 2018.  She says, “I was so inspired by Mrs. Obama’s story that the idea of GIA emerged.  I wanted to create a program that would allow teachers the time to mentor individual girls, while also attempting to involve the entire female student body to become engaged in conversations that could move them forward in their own personal journeys.  Seneca teachers informally mentor every day, but I wanted to create something that allowed teachers to make a bigger impact on their female students, outside of the day-to-day classroom experience.” 

 GIA girls meet as a group with Ms. Denn once a month discuss a topic relevant to teenagers, such as gratitude, time management and social media and to plan school-wide and community service activities.  The girls also individually meet once every two weeks with their mentor to discuss their own person leadership goals.

Ms. Denn sees a need for GIA because, “I think there is a need for this everywhere - we are so inspired by the conversations that ensue when we talk about women and all that we are capable of.  Seneca is just like every other high school - filled with girls trying to find their way and find the courage to use their voices.  We hope that GIA will be a vehicle for those voices.”

Ms. Denn is mentoring senior Morgan Hough and junior Kaylee O'Rourke; Math teacher, Mrs. Casey Beck, is mentoring juniors Jamie Keebler and Maddie Penna; English teacher and Assistant Athletic Director Ms. Tracy Betts is mentoring senior Sam Bozarth and sophomore Julianna Dolan; Ms. Amy Rominiecki, library media specialist, is mentoring senior Olivia Smith and sophomore Samiya Kelly; and Physical Education teacher Mrs. Katie Teller is mentoring senior Brooke Parry and sophomore Claudia Crane.

GIA’s first school-wide activity was a Girl’s Night Out on October 16, which was organized by GIA mentees and their mentors.  Any girl at Seneca was welcome to attend, and for $5.00, which will go towards making care packages for teen girls living in Harbour House in South Jersey, girls could attend three workshops hosted by Seneca teachers.  Workshops included, car care, tap dancing, Bob Ross Painting, Zumba, Escape the Room, and photography among others.  Over 60 Seneca girls attended the event.

Ms. Denn is looking for help from the community.  She explains, “We are looking for strong female leaders in our community to come and speak with our girls and share their stories.  We are also looking for organizations to offer financial support to GIA so that we can broaden our reach and impact."


Photo by Ms. Denn:  Girls in Ascent members (from l to r):  Jamie Keebler, Maddie Penna, Claudia Crane, Morgan Hough, Julianna Dolan, Kaylee O’Rourke, Olivia Smith and Samiya Kelly.


Girls in Ascent