ROX program rolled out at DCS


Since October 2021, groups of girls have been meeting in Delaware City Schools as part of a new program designed to support female students in the district.

Toby West, data coordinator for the district, said the program, which is called Ruling Our eXperiences (ROX), was designed by a researcher at The Ohio State University after data showed that self-esteem in girls plummets in middle school.

West said the program is designed to teach girls different skills in order to help them overcome the many pressures they face.

“I’ve been hearing about the program (at other districts), and I had interest in bringing it here,” West said, adding the district was given a grant by the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board, which it used to fund the professional development required to start the program.

West said the program currently includes Schultz Elementary, Smith Elementary, Woodward Elementary, and Dempsey Middle School due to only having eight trained facilitators, but she noted the district will train three more staff this year to make the program available to the rest of the district.

Groups of seven to 15 female students meet once a week during their advisory period or lunch, and they participate in various lessons and activities, West said. The program runs for 20 weeks.

“There are plenty of activities for each week,” West added. “We have latitude to tailor each week as we see fit. All of us are experiencing that they have more than enough in the curriculum. We pick the most important things we can cover in our time.”

West said some of the topics include developing communication skills, resolving conflict, body image, empathy, leadership using social media responsibly, and how to be assertive without being aggressive or passive aggressive.

She added all of the programs are grade appropriate and curated for each group, and the district plans to expand the program next year.

“All girls can benefit from the program,” West said. “For our first group, we were looking for a diverse group. We didn’t want just one friend group. … We wanted to foster these positive relationships with girls they otherwise would not know. Identifying out first groups were the hardest. I think next time we go to run a group, we’ll have more difficulty narrowing it down.”

West said she enjoys getting to spend time with the girls and is happy to encourage them.

“I love it, it’s the highlight of my week,” she said. “When I first got into education, it was as a math teacher because I wanted to promote girls going into math and sciences. I’ve always had that desire to push girls to buck the stereotype of what they can do. A lot of our girls are already brought up to think they are strong and worthy and capable. It gives me hope that they have not bought into stereotypes.”

West said she plans to continue the program as long as the district has funding for it.

“Given all that they are experience in the pandemic, they really enjoy this non-academic community we’re creating,” West said. “It’s good for all of us. I have seen the progression of the groups I’m in. The girls are more willing to talk in front of the entire group or being more vulnerable.”

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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