As an educator for 20+ years in public schools, I have had the awesome, yet eye-opening opportunity to see first -hand the issues, set-backs, trials, and frustrations that some of our young girls face on a daily basis. From self-esteem issues, to trying to figure out where they fit-in to even deciding whether or not this journey called life is worth living for. I have seen young ladies struggle with their identity, struggle with peer pressure, with failure, struggle with relationships and even struggle with how to communicate with their parents concerning various issues. In other words, I have learned that for these young ladies - THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
I have taught in both Title I and affluent schools, and the prevailing issues are still the same. Some young ladies just need an outlet and another way of seeing the glass as half full rather than empty. Upstate GEMS was to initially be the reigning name of the premier Scholarship Pageant in Upstate Greenville that was for young ladies ages 5-19 - not just a beauty pageant but a pageant where a pre-requisite to participate was to take the 8 week pre-pageant coaching that not only prepared them for the pageant but for life after the pageant. The sessions would consist of public speaking, how to deal with self- esteem issues and peer pressure, healthy life styles, decision making, etiquette and several other character building pillars. The first cohort of young ladies developed such a bond that they did not want to end the meetings after the pageant. Their enthusiasm was the initial "light bulb" for me. It was also confirmation considering the fact that I had begun to witness too many senseless fights in my school that all involved angry females. So my question was and still is "Why are you so angry"? What can I do to help?
GEMS is now a drama free zone organization for young ladies where we learn to develop positive characteristics as well as how to become future business owners and leaders. We are still growing and evolving but I know that as these young ladies grow and develop they will be awesome mentors to other young ladies who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the freedom of knowing who you are, whose you are and what it takes to become the best you that you can be. Our motto is - "Encouraging young ladies to become positive change agents for themselves and others". The gift of knowledge is just the beginning - but when you can help others along the way, the presence of growth is inevitable.
Tica Sullivan has taught in the Greenville County Public Schools for 20 years and initially began her teaching career in Hoke County, North Carolina. She attended Greenville Public Schools and Fine Arts Center and is a graduate of the College of Charleston, Bachelor of Arts and Southern Wesleyan University, Master of Education. While studying at the College of Charleston, she managed to take courses and graduate from the Millie Lewis Modeling Agency in Charleston, SC. Tica is also a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves.
Tica is a member of the National Association of Music Educators and SC Music Educators Association. It is her love of music that has opened the door for her to work with young people in various capacities such as youth retreats, young conferences, music workshops, church youth groups, community events and school related events. Tica also received her event planning certification from Greenville Technical College which helped tremendously with planning various musical productions as well as launching the annual Upstate GEMS Scholarship Pageant.