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Celebrating Our Quaranteens & the Educators Making a Difference

The coronavirus pandemic has changed education around the world. With all schooling from elementary through college moving online, students and educators alike have had to adapt. Now students aren’t just learning math, history, and science, but how to learn under these new circumstances. And while facing this, they deal with the loss or postponement of milestone events like graduation and prom and even club meetings and athletic events.

At the same time, teachers have had some learning to do, too. How can they most effectively move their curriculums online? How can they keep their students engaged? How can they be there for their students when they can’t literally be there?

To hear your answers to these questions, we launched two new Girls’ Voices at Home video challenges. The “Thank Your Teacher” challenge was created to acknowledge teachers who inspire their students, before and during the pandemic. We asked girls to tell us about a teacher who inspired them or changed their life in a big or small way. The winning girl will receive a $100 gift card, and the teacher who inspires her will receive $1,000. This is a small token of our appreciation for all the teachers who have impacted their students’ lives.

The “Class of 2020” challenge was created to record this moment in history from a unique perspective—that of a graduating senior. We wanted to create a place where girls could share how coronavirus changed their senior year, and help them look toward the future with a $1,000 scholarship prize opportunity.

“Thank Your Teacher” Challenge

We were utterly overwhelmed by the wonderful response to these challenges! Over one hundred young women from 27 countries shared stories of their stellar educators with us for the “Thank Your Teacher” challenge. Girls shared stories of teachers that made them think in new ways, as well as teachers who were there for them during difficult emotional times, like the death of a family member or during instances of abuse. One of our goals at Girls’ Voices is to create supportive communities where girls can share their experiences without shame, and we are so grateful to the teachers who foster that space in their classrooms every day.

Taylor B. & Ms. Hillegonds
Munster, IN

In her video, Taylor shares a heartfelt story of why her English teacher, Emily Hillegonds, inspires her. Ms. Hillegonds was there for Taylor when Taylor opened up about her anxiety, depression, and a past sexual assault. Her teacher inspired her so much that Taylor is now planning on becoming a teacher herself!

“Class of 2020” Challenge

The “Class of 2020” challenge received a stupendous 379 entries from 49 countries. These young women told us about all the things they’ve missed out on because their senior year was derailed by the coronavirus, like senior art showcases, plays, sports matches, award ceremonies, and other senior traditions to which they were looking forward. And they all had one thing in common: missing graduation. But many girls still found ways to celebrate—at home, with virtual graduations, or drive-by graduations organized by their schools or communities. These girls aren’t letting the things they missed get them down; instead, they are looking toward the future. In their videos, many seniors talked about how they thought this year would be memorable—well, it was! The Class of 2020 truly is unlike any other class in history.

April J.
Shawville, Quebec

April’s humorous video reminds us that life will always be unpredictable, and it’s up to us to mold the future. The university she planned to attend in the fall is now closed, but she is still optimistic about what the future holds.

Honorable Mentions

We were thrilled and staggered by the number of excellent entries, and we had a hard time picking just one winner for each challenge. We want to share a few more heartfelt videos that caught our attention and filled our hearts.

Alicia from Woodstock, GA
“Class of 2020”

Olivia from Acton, MA
“Class of 2020”

Katherine from Grapevine, TX
“Class of 2020”

Audrey from Frederick, MD
“Class of 2020”

Johanna from Budapest, Hungary
“Thank Your Teacher”

Abby from Houston, TX
“Thank Your Teacher”

Ava from Geneva, OH
“Thank Your Teacher”

Audrey from Malvern, Arkansas
“Thank Your Teacher”

We cannot thank enough all of those who shared their stories, those who watched, and everyone hanging in there. With all the new challenges posed by coronavirus, we are glad to see only a greater sense of community and incredible resilience. If we stay strong, we’ll get through this together!

Stay tuned to participate in our next video challenge, and watch all of the amazing entries we received for these two challenges at!