Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, the only all-girls school in Princeton, has launched the National Center for Girls’ Leadership with the goal of developing and supporting the next generation of potential female leaders in the United States.
“As experts in educating girls, we are always asking, ‘What do girls need to lead today, and into the future?’” said Patty Fagin, head of school at Stuart. “Despite the demonstrated strength of girls over their male counterparts in the classroom, women still remain significantly underrepresented in many high growth areas including the STEM fields, entrepreneurship, finance, and especially positions of leadership…We believe that girls must be given not just the skills, but also the confidence to know their voices are equally important.”
In 2015, Stuart created the Center for Girls’ Leadership, and in April the school hosted the #LEADLIKEAGIRL free conference for girls. The conference evolved out of the school’s efforts to help bridge the gender-gap in science, technology, math and entrepreneurship. More than 900 students, parents and teachers from across the country participated in the conference.
The National Center for Girls’ Leadership at Stuart will provide leadership training, mentors and opportunities through research, curriculum development and programming.
Courtney Portlock, the head of the upper school at Stuart, is the director of the new center. She is working to form a consortium with girls’ schools around the country under the umbrella of the center, with plans to develop training for educators to teach leadership curriculum, make leadership courses available online, connect students with mentors, and hold the #LEADLIKEAGIRL conference in different locations across the country.
“Through the expansion, we will create blueprint for other schools, educators and organizations to extend the impact of the center’s mission to students regardless of where they live or go to school,” Portlock said.
For the last three years, Portlock has served as the assistant head of the upper school at Stuart. Previously she was at The Episcopal Academy for nine years, where she was director of diversity and community life for seven years and taught math and English. A Princeton native, Portlock worked in finance and technology before making a career change. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
“Courtney’s passion for and experience with diversity, equity and inclusion will be invaluable as we expand the center both geographically, and also socioeconomically, to girls throughout the country,” Fagin said.