Samantha Westerdale

  • Teacher
  • Grade: 9th
  • School: Rangeview High School
  • Location: Aurora, Colorado

Samantha has facilitated an annual Girl Rising event for freshmen girls over the past six years. This all-day event includes a GR screening and a discussion on the power of education in today's world. 

What was your goal in bringing GR to your school? 

Our goal in bringing Girl Rising to our school was based on a viewing of the film when it first came out in 2013. This idea came from my principal, Ronald Fay who learned that GATHR decided to host the film in downtown Denver. He asked a few teachers and counselors if we’d like to attend. Based off of our thoughts and reflections on the film, we decided to hold a viewing of the film a few months later for some of our students. We have since then held an event once a year for all freshmen girls to attend.

How did you use Girl Rising? 

After screening the film we facilitate a conversation around the importance of education. During the most recent event, after the film, the principal gave an emotional speech about education noting that, "This is my favorite day of the year...We do this because you matter. You have an identity. You have a story." 

Freshmen conclude the day by reflecting on the film and how they plan to improve their own education. This goes hand-in-hand with Goal 1 of the APS 2020: Shaping the Future, a strategic plan that Rangeview High School has implemented to help ensure that every student has a plan for her or his future. 

What was the impact of GR on your students? 

The impact of our girls viewing Girl Rising has become a part of Rangeview’s culture. Each year when the freshmen girls attend the screening of the film, we also have a few of our upperclassmen facilitators attend to help the younger girls reflect on their education and act as role models for them. It’s a day that our junior and senior girls look forward to each year. Our Girl Rising event celebrates growth, honest discussion, and a time to focus on what it means to have an education. Learning about the nine girls’ stories in the film creates a stronger awareness for our students on how to best take care of one another and those around them here at Rangeview High School.