The story of the Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education begins with me: a girl growing up in a working-class family in the Western North Carolina mountains. I was a girl with big dreams but limited opportunities.
When I was seventeen years old, and hopelessly naïve about how higher education works, opportunity came knocking at my door. I received a letter offering me admission to a local two-year college, with a free ride through a combination of scholarships. Off I went on a long journey that ended up taking me to Harvard University for a doctorate in education, then back to my native soil in North Carolina’s mountain communities to found PAGE.
When I look now at the young girls coming in to our PAGE program just after their 5th grade school year, I see girls who are every bit as gifted and hungry for learning and new experiences as I was. PAGE began with a simple idea: give these rural, working-class girls high quality, 21st century learning opportunities. Provide educational experiences in the critical four years of early adolescence, so that girls go into high school with aspirations and the high-level skills they need to excel in today’s global world.
Then watch these girls grow up and become young leaders who can help create a new Appalachia. This was the vision that shaped the founding of PAGE in 2010, in the beautiful mountain community of Spring Creek, North Carolina. The concept underlying PAGE was born: invest in high-quality education that empowers girls locally and globally and you are investing in the future of Appalachia.
Today PAGE serves up to 50 girls annually in the middle school grades, and it offers internships for local high school girls with college dreams. We have moved to the larger town (though still small at around 500 residents) of Hot Springs over the summer, and to Madison Middle School in the town of Marshall during the school year. We offer year-round learning opportunities now, and our team has grown to include a Program Director, an evaluation director and research assistant, an instructional assistant, bus drivers, and our own cook. Each year, we work with a team of six Duke University undergraduates who devote nine summer weeks to living in the mountains, teaching 21st century skills, and making a long-term difference as mentors for girls in Appalachia.
We hope you will join us, in person or virtually, and become part of a PAGE story that continues to evolve. We in PAGE – our undergraduate and high school interns, our staff and leaders, and the rural girls themselves – like to believe that we have the determination and grit to pull off a remarkable demonstration of what can happen when you invest in innovative education for Appalachia’s girls.
Founder and Executive Director