It’s tempting (to some) to get comfortable with the fact that Black women and girls are not “in crisis”, especially when it feels like the world is one giant snowball of crises these days.  In the last decade we have been seen outperforming other groups in educational achievement, starting businesses at 6 times the national average, and setting quite a few “firsts” such as Vice President, Emmy wins for comedy, Librarian of Congress, even a spokesperson for Lancome.  In my own work, I spend a lot of time reminding educators why centering Black girls’ needs and experiences in the classroom is critical to their outcomes and beneficial to all students.  We generally take for granted that these accomplishments come at a cost, and that we must be proactive in protecting Black girls from the damage that comes with their accomplishments.  It is far easier to see the shine of the accomplishments than the collateral damage.

And then, we are reminded again that Black women and girls continue to exist under the oppressive double standards that limit our greatness at the hands of white supremacy.  We knew Sha’Carri Richardson was being punished harshly, and collectively Black women and girls felt the punch to our guts and kept it moving.  And here we are again with Angel Reese.  This most recent display of double standards for womanhood is such a blatant example of how white supremacy uses black women as tools that it goes beyond a gut punch – it’s a total assault on our humanity.  And while the media this time is more willing to make racism the center of the story (for reasons that might not be above the board), something truly precious is being drowned out – the JOY that these Black girls earned and deserve. Their unbridled passion and happiness at overcoming challenges and defying expectations has been eclipsed by a narrative of whether or not they should be allowed to express it.

I admit, I’m super late. It’s been almost a week so everything that could be said about why Angel Reese is being held to an unfair standard has been said on all the social platforms at today’s record news pace.  I’m kind of busy living my life as a mother, small business owner, wife, daughter, advocate, while getting my yoga in and drinking water – you know, surviving role-overload.  My husband sent me this clip (among others as he single handedly keeps me up-to-date on the news that falls outside of my local parents group’s posts about park playdates) and I’m super proud and cheering Angel on for speaking her truth and for the team standing firm in their worth. I’ve watched her say “So I was like, bet” I don’t even know how many times, and still feel triumphant and defiant each time.  

I am also sad for her and her teammates. I am worried about them.  It seems to me that no one wants to talk to them about the joy of their victory, the work they put in, the skill they demonstrated (in what can only be called a blow out) since the few minutes of post game sound bites after that final buzzer.  This is something I know too well as a Black woman.  Your accomplishments, your skill, your worth get swallowed up and are no longer yours; they now belong to everyone else as you strive to prove that someone who looks like you, sounds like you, or comes from where you come from can in fact do these things.   Your excitement becomes exaggerated, your speech too aggressive, and your self-defense and protection is attitudinal.  All of this happens because you can’t just exist – you and all you have done only exist in comparison to white women, black men, white men.  Would we be talking about trash talk AT ALL if this were a men’s game?  If both women players had been black, would anyone have noticed their behavior?  Would there be a “victim” at all?  

Black women and girls work hard for their victories, they nurture their talents, and they deserve to experience their own joy free of the weight of what it means to race relations, or women’s sports, or whether it will follow them forever.  When I think of the women athletes who have defied norms of “womanhood” or “sportsmanship” and have suffered for it, they are all Black.  I admit I don’t follow sports that closely, but I even tried to google the one white tennis player I vaguely remember being called a brat and all I got were articles about Serena Williams – including a white woman I have never even heard of criticizing Serena for not praising her enough.

So, yes, I am glad that we collectively (except Jill Biden, who must be even more out of touch with sports than I am), are beginning to see that Black women and girls are held to an unfair standard against their white peers.  But we cannot stay there, that is not enough.  We must shift this narrative from one in which Black women and girls need defending and protection, to one where we find inspiration in their unbridled joy, and where their accomplishments are valued for what they are – not just how they stack up to white women, or to men.  These girls out-performed the entire Iowa team.  Angel Reese demonstrated leadership and generosity to her teammates in this moment, which is the moment I choose to keep on replay and the one I believe truly represents this story.

Elevating The Whole Girl 2022

In May 2022, imPACT facilitated the first ever Elevating the Whole Girl Conference Day for Baltimore City Public Schools. Hosted by Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and Western High School, the conference dove into what it means to create educational spaces that dismantle systemic barriers to empowerment and let our girls shine as their authentic and whole selves. Check out the full list of speakers and sessions here.

Contact imPACT on the Contact us page or by emailing cristina@impactllcs.com for video of the virtual keynote sessions.

Speakers Dr. Sally Nuamah and Dr. Sheri K. Lewis with Cristina Easton (imPACT), and Principal Michelle White (Western High School)

“In 15 years, this was one of the best professional days I have experienced. I’m excited for next year!”

Conference Attendee
Bridgette Ouimette of Advancing Girls
Teacher Presenter and Elevating the Whole Girl Workshop Series Participant, Dr. Jaqueline Krikorian of Western High School

Summer with imPACT!

We’ve been living our best hybrid life at imPACT this summer! Zoom workshops and in-person student programming made for a busy and rewarding season!

Students created vision boards as a culminating reflection on their goal-setting and envisioning workshops.

From June through August, we got back into the classroom with Project Pneuma at the Mount Royal Elementary/Middle Summer School site! imPACT welcomed Dr. Stephanie Akoumany of Bloom Wellness Lab to the team for this project. Together, we delivered workshops on engaging our mind-body connection to develop and meet our goals. From exploring how our values show up as superpowers, to creating inspirational vision boards, we had a blast getting to know these super powerful imPACT Girls!

In Zoom-land, dedicated Baltimore City Schools staff gave of their time to participate in the Elevating the Whole Girl Workshop Series. Coming from schools across the city, these educators engaged in a deep dive into turning research on the needs and experiences of girls of color in schools into tangible practices they will put into action this fall. This second cohort was just as rewarding and enlightening as the first, especially as we watched Black girls thrive in the Summer Olympics despite the systemic challenges in sports.

As a Baltimore-born company, imPACT is incredibly proud to partner with Western High School, the oldest all-girls’ public school in the nation! As students return from a large part of their high school careers in a pandemic, Western has engaged imPACT to steward an initiative in Student Voice as they rebuild their community and re-imagine “the Western Way”. imPACT had the opportunity to bring back Western graduates from classes of 1974-2001 (and play in the school’s magical Archives room) to bridge the school’s past with their future, together. We can’t wait to see the impact of this partnership in centering student voice as they lead their school into a new era.

What people are saying about imPACT…

In March, imPACT wrapped our first cohort of the Elevating the Whole Girl Workshop Series, a six-week program for Baltimore City Public Schools teachers where we delved into the unique educational needs of urban girls of color and developed action plans for intentionally supporting them in our classrooms. It was an inspirational time that moved twenty-eight city schools educators to be champions for their girls! More workshop opportunities will be announced soon!

“I am loving the course so far. I love that you are presenting the material in a variety of ways – from readings to lectures and even small and whole group discussions. I find this topic so interesting and have not had the opportunity to engage in a course specifically about black and urban girls before.”

 “I am enjoying the course and am learning from the materials and overall course structure. Cristina does a good job of infusing current events and modern best practices with history and pedagogy.”

“I feel much better informed to address issues minority girls face. I am already thinking about and applying how I address and work with my girls of color.”

“Cristina was a highly effective principal and role model for the Upper School girls. She exhibited exceptional leadership and communication skills. Cristina was receptive to any feedback from students, teachers, and families to promote academic excellence, leadership, and sisterhood… She is passionate about all girls education and implementing best practices for supporting girls and young women.”

LAUNCH! The Girls imPACT Web Series

One day, the old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young girl who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the girl and asked what she was doing. 

The young girl paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the girl replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The girl bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

I have always been inspired by The Star Thrower story. Too often, we lose sight of the enormous impact just one person can make. We assume that children must always learn from adults. This story illustrates one of our core values at imPACT, which is that all voices have value and we can all learn from one another.

In partnership with Dr. Stephanie Akoumany of BLOOM, imPACT introduces the Girls imPACT Web Series. The vision is to create an intergenerational space for women and girls to discuss the ways in which we make impact on our communities regardless of age or resume. We want all young girls to know that they don’t have to wait until they’ve “made it” to jump in and make change, and that even small change can be radical! Over the course of 6 weeks, we train youth moderators on how to build an intentional conversation; we give them a broad topic, for example Voice, and they develop the content, identify panelists, and run the show. We will host quarterly episodes on Voice, Community, Confidence, and Health and Wellness. Join us by visiting the Girls imPACT tab.

International Day of the Girl 2020

Since July, I’ve been thinking a lot about girls’ and women’s voices. They are everywhere. The boss girl energy of this summer’s pop anthems, Greta Thurnberg, “The Squad” reaffirming their voices in the 2020 primaries, Kamala Harris, Women’s Marches, Black@ accounts at schools across the country, Michelle Obama’s podcast, and how many times have we seen the image of a young woman of color, like Ieshia Evans, on the front lines of protests against police brutality? This past year, the roar of our voices has sent sound waves that cannot be ignored. These girls and women are exceptional in their leadership and are incredible role models for young girls. But sometimes, it seems that the path from young girl to exceptional woman is only for the few. Why is it that today, with all of these incredible 2020 women, so many girls still feel unseen and unheard? We must shift how we identify leadership in girls and women; rather than looking at them as exceptional individuals, it is time for us to celebrate the collective voice of girls. This is what I love about International Day of the Girl. It calls for us to consider the unique challenges that girls face around the globe: access to equitable education, bodily autonomy, safety from gendered violence. It centers the voices of girls making demands of their communities and reminds us that given the opportunity, any girl and all girls must be heard and can make a difference.

We are in unprecedented times where it can feel impossible to come together; the pandemic has brought a new meaning to isolation and role overload… how many of us are never alone in our homes (as we manage our children and families), but have never felt so alone? There are also so many issues of such magnitude calling for our energy – the 2020 election, racial justice, health and safety. What energy can we give to yet another cause. We must remember that impact can come from the smallest of shifts. For me, I will spend this year’s Day of the Girl supporting a fellow woman entrepreneur at the Women Leading Baltimore The Power of a Woman Photo Shoot. I am calling for all of us to celebrate this year’s Day of the Girl by taking two easy steps.

#1: Listen to a Girl This year’s International Day of the Girl theme is My Voice, Our Better Future. Girls are telling us what they need every day, all we have to do is listen. Consider asking a girl in your life what SHE demands of the world for her future, or what SHE thinks society needs. Ask HER the nagging question that has been keeping you up at night, whatever it is, and let her see that you value her thoughts.

#2: Elevate Her Voice Connect with us at im.pact.ed or @imPACTedConsulting and let us know, what are the girls in your life asking you? We will take her question and share it with other girls, because we know that together girls have the answers!

A Promise to make imPACT

Founder, Cristina J. Easton is a daughter of Baltimore and product of girls’ and women’s schools

The mission of imPACT Educational Consulting is to steward projects in student wholeness and leadership from promise to impact, by working in collaboration with educational and youth organizations to identify measures and increase outcomes of student connectedness, voice, and confidence.  We do this by designing programming and providing regular assessment of growth in those measures towards improving outcomes for students, particularly in accordance with the CASEL competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.  For partner schools and organizations, we seek to bring our expertise in fostering student leadership and girls education, while also alleviating the load associated with data-driven programming for a specific subgroup. 

On a larger scale, imPACT seeks to fill the void of research and practice in education that is specific to urban girls and girls of color.  So much of the dominant discourse on girls education is produced by researchers based in predominantly white private institutions.  This does not serve urban girls, nor girls of color to the significant degree that they deserve.  imPACT is committed to always including measures of student wellness through the lens of intersectionality.  Most importantly, imPACT believes that our promise to every girl and institution is also a pact we enter with the surrounding community to make positive change. 

Founder, Cristina J. Easton, has a wealth of experience and expertise in girls education.  As a Baltimore native and black daughter of immigrants, she attended a prestigious K-12 girls school from age 4 to graduation.  Those years, and her subsequent undergraduate work at a women’s college in New England were both formative in her understanding of what it takes to develop a sense of belonging and fortitude not just as a girl, but as a black girl.  Having served as a New York City Teaching Fellow in a co-ed school in the Bronx, and completing her masters degree in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, Cristina has been committed to Urban Education for her entire career.  As a founding staff member at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn where she served as a Special Education Teacher and Assistant Principal, Cristina has experience in both short and long-term organizational planning and developing curriculum and programming tailored to urban girls and girls of color.   She has presented at national and international conferences on girls education on topics ranging from differentiation in mathematics instruction to building public and private school partnerships.   Having engaged in discussions with school leadership from public and private girls schools across Baltimore city, increasingly schools are wondering if they are doing enough for their students of color who experience the world in a unique way.  Schools are also wondering if they are doing enough to prepare all their students to be the change-makers their missions purport in an ever changing world.  Addressing these questions is not just a professional passion for Cristina, it’s personal and essential.  As a special educator, she used to say that differentiating for her special needs students was beneficial for all students, and she now says this about centering the needs of black and brown girls in the classroom. Thus, founding imPACT is her promise – a pact she is making with the city she loves – to impact as many girls and students as possible through measured and intentional programming, professional development, and partnerships.