Celebrating Women’s History Month by Empowering Girls Together
As Women's History Month comes to a close the Head of School at Notre Dame Academy and the CEO of Girls Inc. of Worcester are celebrating Women’s History Month by exploring their uniquely intertwined history and mission of empowering girls.
Lisa Mancini (Notre Dame Academy) and Victoria Waterman (Girls Inc.) have a lot more in common than just leading two of the top gender-specific anchor institutions in the Worcester community. A quick look into their personal backstories shows a common thread of investing in girls from a young age. Lisa, herself a Girls Inc. of Worcester alum, recalls her early childhood memories making ceramic pinch pots in the same classrooms that girls are learning STEM in now. “From my mother, an Italian immigrant who became a nurse, and my father, a hard-working electrician, I learned about the importance of an education, hard work, and resilience,” said Lisa Mancini, Notre Dame Academy Head of School. “From Girls Inc. I learned that girls can truly do anything and have fun while doing it. They inspire all girls to be strong, smart, creative, and bold. The power of being a girl became very apparent to me during my time at Girls Inc."” She proudly displays those same clay pieces in her office at Notre Dame Academy as inspiration for the next generation of girls to explore their potential. They are touchstones that remind Lisa of her full-circle journey from being inspired by a girl serving program at Girls Inc. to running an all-girl school. Notre Dame Academy (NDA) has been educating young women since 1951. With a 100% college acceptance rate, they are the only all-girl, catholic, independent school in Central MA. In addition to their strong curriculum, AP courses and dual-enrollment partnership with Assumption University, this Fall NDA will be introducing a STEM certificate program and an Arts Certificate program for students interested in pursuing either field.
Victoria, a recent recipient of Notre Dame Academy’s Knollwood Award, is similarly aware of the impact that her education at an all-girls high school has had on her career. “Whenever I’m asked to remember a teacher who made a difference in my life, I recall Sister Jackie who ignited my love of reading through discussions of female protagonists. Being in a gender-responsive environment showed me the importance of developing confidence and self-esteem through a sisterhood in which we held each other to high expectations and lifted each other up.” Girls Inc. is empowering the next generation of leaders to lift each up through gender-specific programs like Eureka!-- a 5-year STEM and Leadership program with a tremendous track record. 100% of graduates have gone on to post-secondary education and more than 65% have planned to major in STEM-related careers. That is double the national average- a success made possible by the investment of partners like Notre Dame Academy. Recently, young women from both organizations participated in a clean-up service project at Camp Kinneywood, a property owned by Girls Inc. Girls had the opportunity to share their own stories and work collaboratively to give back to the Worcester community.
With over 175 years of empowering girls between these two institutions, Notre Dame Academy and Girls Inc. of Worcester know the value of celebrating history. This month, they celebrate the women leaders of yesterday just as strongly as they celebrate the women leaders of tomorrow.