I have been a math teacher for 12 years, and throughout most of that time, I have coached one sport or another. This is the first year I have just been a teacher, and it has opened my eyes to how much I miss coaching and love having the ability to make a difference in young women’s lives through mentorship.
After working with so many young women over the years, I’ve noticed how many mixed messages they receive about who they are and what they should become. There is an incredible amount of pressure – from a very early age – to look and act a certain way. I watch young women sacrifice who they are to fit in and to have boys like them. They all have so much to offer, but are willing to be someone else in order to be considered "cool." I’ve also noticed they often feel alone. When they have issues with their friends, families or relationships, they don't know who to turn to for help.
To combat this problem, I have started a company, “Girls Dreaming Big.” The website, which is scheduled to launch later this month, will be focused on creating a community where young women feel comfortable being who they really are. My mission is to help young women realize their own abilities and strengths; membership won’t be about what you're wearing, who you’re friends with or what boy/girl likes you. By creating an environment where they feel safe and supported, I hope to inspire girls and give them the courage to dream big. I don’t plan on stopping there. Girls Dreaming Big will also provide them with tools and strategies for how to achieve their dreams.
In many ways, Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk was the catalyst for this new adventure of mine; I was so impressed and inspired by her message. Since then, my life has changed dramatically. Going after your dreams can be so invigorating and terrifying all at the same time. I am leaving a stable, good job to start my company. Some people think I am crazy to do that, but others find it inspiring. I would be lying if I said I never had moments of fear, but most of the time I feel so much more alive and excited than before. I can’t wait until I can focus on my mission full time. I recently sent a leave of absence memo to my principal, and will be taking the next school year off to focus on getting the company off the ground. I know this is the right path for me and it is an incredible feeling.