Nandi Edouard is an 8th grade English teacher and grade level chair at YES Prep White Oak. Previously, she taught for two years at YES Prep Hoffman. We spoke to her about Girls on the M.O.V.E., a student organization she created to help Black girls feel a sense of belonging and connection.
What is Girls on the M.O.V.E.?
Girls on the M.O.V.E. stands for Girls who are Motivated, Outstanding, Versatile, and Excellent. The mission of Girls on the M.O.V.E is to change the world by empowering girls to lead, transform, and serve. Every aspect of GOTM is rooted in our pledge:
I know my worth. I hold myself to high esteem because I value myself. I treat myself with love, care, respect and honor. I am committed and confident. I am committed to a future that holds great possibilities for me, my family, and the world. I do not waste my voice on gossip, slander, or disrespect that is hurtful to myself, my sisters, or other people. I am not intimidated by anyone or anything. I move with elegance, grace and ease, effortlessly accomplishing all that I set my heart and mind to do. As I move confidently into my next steps, I am inspired by life and I inspire others.
I am a girl on the move!
How did Girls on the M.O.V.E. start?
Girls on the M.O.V.E. started at Hoffman because our African-American female students attended the Sisterhood Summit and saw how much fun it was and wanted the same feeling at their school. They wanted an opportunity to hang out with other Black girls at their campus and have a space to be themselves. When I came to White Oak, I presented the idea of bringing GOTM to the administration, and they shared persistence data that showed that many Black girls were leaving after 8th grade to attend other high schools. I knew that Girls on the M.O.V.E. could help our girls feel more connected to White Oak and form bonds that would keep them here. It took many meetings and a lot of collaboration to bring us together and ensure that all the ladies felt represented and respected in the space we share. This year, there’s a new spin to the org, the eighth through tenth-grade students mentor our sixth and seventh-grade girls, so that they can help them navigate the school or issues that may arise.
What are some of the activities your organization does?
Sheena Drummond, our high school student support counselor is a huge support to the group, which has about 25 girls this year. We have a session once a month. Sessions include: setting a vision, leadership 101, knowing your rights, conflict resolution, career options, college options, etiquette and personal development. At the end of the year, we’ll have a big celebration for the eighth-grade girls because we do not have seniors just yet.
What has been the impact of Girls on the M.O.V.E.?
The girls feel empowered to represent their backgrounds. We hear from them that they’re really proud to be Black. They’re feeling like they have a community and someone they can talk to. They also fuel my fire and passion. If I’m gone on PTO or in a meeting, the next day or next time I see them, I am sure to be greeted with a “Where were you? We missed you.” On the most recent student survey, the number of “Strongly Disagree” responses on a number of questions decreased and, overall, the sense of belonging has increased. Socially, the girls are really close and support each other in all endeavors.