Middle school is the worst—don’t expect too much. That’s what people told me after our daughter’s blissful seven years at a neighborhood elementary school. This attitude struck me as depressingly dismissive of three years of my daughter’s academic life. I loved middle school—yes, I was awkward, but it was also a time of emotional, creative, and intellectual growth. I wanted the same for my daughter. More than anything, I wanted my bright, curious, but quiet child to be appreciated for who she is and to grow more confident in her voice.
We considered our local middle school, but it had numerous challenges, including an intimidating number of students. Then, we looked at another DPS school where many of my daughter’s friends from elementary school would be going. But our visit to that school felt cold and sad.
At this point, we started looking into DPS public charters. At first, I was confused about what “charter” meant. If you have questions about charters, check out this blog post by GALS parent Cynthia Swanson.
We visited a charter with a reputation for academic excellence but strict behavior policies. This didn’t seem like a good fit for our rule-follower kid. We were looking for a school that gave students more freedom along with high academic expectations.
GALS had been on my radar for years. I liked what I’d heard—especially about GALS Series, a class specifically designed to help students navigate being female in the world. I was impressed that several moms I know who are teachers had chosen GALS for their own daughters.
I wasn’t familiar with the advantages of all-girls secondary schools, but after doing research, I was on board. Here’s a post that goes into detail about the benefits of single-gender education.
The first time we visited GALS, we were greeted by an irresistible, 90s hip-hop classic playing at top volume. Students and teachers danced in front of a boombox, sporting athletic attire and genuine smiles. A student grabbed my daughter’s hand, and the next time we saw her, two hours later, she’d made up her mind that GALS was the place for her. We all felt embraced by the warmth of the GALS community. It was what we needed but hadn’t expected to find.
The more we learned, the more we realized GALS ticked off every box for us. GALS offers:
- Enthusiastic, inspiring staff
- Solid academics, including arts and other electives
- A diverse student population
- A focus on building character and good citizens
- Messages of female empowerment, acceptance of others, and celebration of difference
- Movement-based learning that connects the mind and body
For us, that final benefit in the list was the icing on the cake. Our kid has never been interested in sports. She doesn’t have trouble sitting still—in fact, sometimes it’s hard to get her up and motivated. The movement-based education at GALS appealed, both for our daughter’s health and her overall confidence.
Our experience at GALS has met our expectations and then some. From the start, GALS staff knew and understood my child remarkably well—they really see her. No one anticipated the challenges of a pandemic, but over these last months, we’ve been thankful for the support and consistency of the GALS community and its incredible staff. They got us up and moving on mornings when it felt impossible. Even over Zoom, the GALS staff radiates positivity.
We’re so grateful we chose GALS!