March Student of the Month: Jynita Woods
MARCH STUDENT OF THE MONTH
Name: Jynita Woods
School: Philadelphia High School for Girls
Nominated By:Kathleen DiTanna, Teacher – AP Language and AP Literature
Jynita Woods came to Girls’ High from a co-ed school, and it’s clear from speaking with her that she credits a lot of her positive academic experiences over the last four years to the environment at Girls’ High. She went from feeling overlooked to feeling focused on, having the opportunity to speak and be heard, and to foster relationships and pursue interests that hadn’t been previously possible.
Her nominator, Ms. Kathleen DiTanna, describes Jynita as having “the best qualities in a student who is graduating from high school. She is first and foremost a caring, compassionate young woman. Secondly she is intelligent, motivated and she works hard to be successful. She extends herself in every way–supporting other students, being prosocial, proactive and positive! Her kindness, grace, and optimism are contagious and inspirational.”
Jynita thinks just as highly of Ms. DiTanna. “I work really well with hands-on learning, but during the pandemic, it was really hard to make connections with the work and the teachers online. But Ms. DiTanna really made the effort. She put herself out there, got up early every day and was proud of what she was doing and you felt it.”
Jynita says she knew in 8th grade that Girls’ High was for her. ”I figured I’d have more opportunities, and I’d get to have bonds I’d never had in the co-ed schools. That definitely came to fruition. To have the kinds of conversations I now have in class – I never got that opportunity before. And to be around people who don’t think exactly the same as me, who challenge what I believe, that helps me think of things in different ways.”
She doesn’t shy away from a challenge and she speaks on behalf of the things she believes in. She and the members of her dance group were prepared to go to Harrisburg to influence state legislators to not defund arts programs and to point out the need to change dance instructor licensing to make it easier to have certified dance teachers in Pennsylvania schools.
We asked Jynita to tell us a little more about herself. Here’s what we learned:
1. What does being named Student of the Month mean to you?
To me to be named Student of the Month really means a lot. To come from a background where I was just looked over, to a classroom of people who look like me, in an environment where I really am supported… I think it just shows that you don’t have to be a product of your environment. You can’t blame people for thinking that way, because it’s hard to not fall into what you see every day. But here, the teachers and students really try to get you involved in things. Which to me says that with the right environment and support, anything is possible. That’s what this award represents for me, and that feels really good.
2. Why do you think you were nominated for Student of the Month?
I think I was nominated because I’m not one to shy away from a conversation, and if I agree – or disagree – or just want to be heard, I’m not afraid to speak up. In co-ed environments you can get spoken over a lot…I make sure that people hear what I have to say. And I think Ms. DiTanna admires that, because she sees what happens, coming from co-ed schools. So I think she was just a little bit impressed that I wasn’t shying away, especially with such a challenging class.
3. You were nominated by Ms. DiTanna. Explain your relationship to her? Why do you think she nominated you specifically?
I’ve had her for two years now, for AP Language and AP Literature. Those are my favorite classes. But when I applied to her class I was really nervous at the start, because she has this really big reputation at school and she’s always challenging everyone and I thought, I’m not going to be ready. But as soon as we got to have our first one-on-one, she gave me great feedback. I had my first moment of taking that chance and giving a little bit of myself to get that connection back, and she didn’t make me feel ‘less than’ or dumb. She really was there for me and I appreciated that, especially during the pandemic.
4. What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you?
I love to write. I haven’t always been great at it, but now it’s become an outlet. I struggled a lot during the pandemic being trapped in my own home, and writing showed me how to express what I felt. It really opened my eyes to other ways to express myself, and to meeting people who felt the same way and did the same thing to express how they feel, so, it felt good to share.
5. What do you enjoy most when you are not at school? 6. In your opinion, what is the best thing about attending school at Girls High?
I’d like to connect the answer to these two questions.
I really do like to dance and I like to write poetry. Coming from my old school, I didn’t have any opportunities to do these things but at Girls High, I’ve taken multiple dance classes and we have poetry days every year. Being that it’s like a college base, we actually do have a lot of extracurriculars. It felt nice to be pushed in something that wasn’t academically based.
So having these types of opportunities, combined with the support and the encouragement to try new things, and being helped to do well and challenge ourselves – I’ve never had that kind of environment, to really push me and to be supported in what I really wanna do, outside of just learning.
7. In your opinion, what is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students?
It’s impossible to have a really good day of full-on learning without interruptions when we have a building full of people working on all our classrooms. I don’t think that would happen in another community – it wouldn’t happen this way. It’s too much distraction, there’s drilling and debris falling from the walls. If they could do the work during non-school hours, I would love for that to change.
After she graduates from Girl’s High Jynita is planning to attend Albright College to pursue a degree in Business with a focus in Marketing. Congratulations and best of luck to you Jynita – we know your voice will continue to be heard!