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MAKING A MARK: School leader empowers young women through mentoring club

The new school year is around the corner in Virginia. Chekesha White is pairing young women with people hoping to invest in their future through G.I.R.L.S. Club.

NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk school administrator is helping girls maximize their potential through guidance and care.

Norview Middle School Assistant Principal Chekesha White is clearing a path to success for young girls through her mentoring program, G.I.R.L.S. Club.

"G.I.R.L.S. stands for 'Girls Influenced by Righteous Living in all Situations,'" said White.

"When you ask a student, 'What do you want to be in life?' some of them will say, 'I don't know.' But yet, they have so many gifts and talents within," said White. "And so, it's up to the adults or the people in their lives to really pull those talents and skills out."

White said G.I.R.L.S. Club has grown from an after-school program in 2005 where she mentored about 15 girls, to a community organization with more than 60 mentors and about 350 mentees enrolling each year.

"Before I became an administrator, I was a teacher for 16 years," said White. "I just began to assess the girls in my class and just noticed their lack of confidence, how they would succumb to peer pressure."

She said she knew they were capable of more.

"I just saw a need to really speak to the girls... who I knew I could mentor and coach and empower... and just plant seeds that I knew would eventually grow and blossom into something great," said White.

As students prepare to return to class after an unprecedented year, White said G.I.R.L.S. Club is needed now more than ever.

"This pandemic has really done a number for kids," said White. "We want them to be able to share and express what they're feeling and what's going on."

"You don't have to put up a front," said White. "We accept you for who you are."

G.I.R.L.S. Club is open to elementary, middle and high school girls across Hampton Roads. To learn more about becoming a mentor or mentee, visit the group on Facebook or Instagram.