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Gold Award Project Focuses on Racism

Natalie da Cunha will receive her Gold Award pin in June. Courtesy photo

Creates “Resolving Racism at its Roots” curriculum for 8th grade 

By Theresa Knapp 
Natalie da Cunha of Milford has always been passionate about social justice issues. She now wants to enhance the school curriculum “to make it less white-washed and more inclusive of other cultures.” 
As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she created “Resolving Racism at its Roots,” a program to be added to the 8th grade curriculum at Milford Public Schools.
“I decided that tackling the eighth grade curriculum would be the most efficient route for my project,” she says. 
Da Cunha created an advisory team, which included teachers and administrators, gathered resources, and created a curriculum to be used in the middle school. 
“I helped write curriculum that takes effect as an overarching theme throughout the year and finishes with an art project. My team followed a template given to us by the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment,” says da Cunha.
The MCIEA also funded the project with a $5,000 grant that da Cunha wrote with Milford Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Craig Consigli. 
The 10-section program has an “overarching theme due to the content and prerequisite skills that students need to acquire before moving on to this unit. In this way, teachers are thinking about the end result throughout the year as they are teaching other content.”
One requirement of the Gold Award process is to measure impact. To do that, she created a teacher survey “asking them how their feelings about the subject matter have changed since the beginning of my project.” 
She received several positive responses including this from a Stacy Middle School teacher:
“I just wanted to say thank you for initiating this project. This project has fostered some very deep, meaningful conversations about our students, community, teaching, and learning. It has also allowed for collaboration between teachers that did not exist to this level before.” 
Da Cunha said she enjoyed this project because she was able to see meaningful change being done in the community. She also learned a great deal about the work school administrators do before assignments reach the students. 
“I know that going forward, students of all races, backgrounds, and identities will feel more included because they will able to see themselves in the class discussions, literature, and history.” She said the process “gave me a much deeper level of appreciation for my education know the amount of work that is done to get it in the classroom.” 
Da Cunha passed her Gold Award review and will receive her pin in June. 

 The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors can receive. To earn the award, Girl Scouts must spend a suggested 80 hours to complete the required steps: identifying an issue, investigating it thoroughly, getting help and building a team, creating a plan, presenting a plan, gathering feedback, taking action, and educating and inspiring others.