I’m thrilled to be starting my second year at The Brearley School. It’s a fantastic K-12 girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I gush often about the stellar admin team, the incredibly accomplished faculty, and the fabulous students. Everyone is kind, brilliant, and passionate, and I feel very lucky to have joined the community.
An email went out to faculty last spring about joining a cohort to be trained to lead instruction in the Our Whole Lives (OWL) curriculum at the elementary, middle, and upper levels. I jumped at the opportunity to get empowered to further empower our students to make informed, wise, responsible choices. I was a volunteer Sex and Personal Health Educator (SAPHE) while a student at Bryn Mawr College, and I greatly appreciated that Brearley chose to implement OWL this year and offered us this chance to be so involved.
Below is some information copied and pasted from the Wikipedia page about OWL:
Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a series of six comprehensive sexuality curricula for children, teenagers, young adults and adults published by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.Publication was the result of seven years of collaborative effort by the two faiths to prepare material which addresses sexuality throughout the lifespan in age appropriate ways.
The Our Whole Lives program operates under the idea that well informed youth and young adults make better, healthier decisions about sexuality than those without complete information. OWL strives to be unbiased and teaches aboutheterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, and transgender sexual health. In addition to information on sex, OWL is intended to help children, youth, and adults to be emotionally healthy and responsible in terms of their sexuality.
This past weekend, following the first week of school, about 25 of us stayed past 9pm on Friday, and returned to school at 7:30am on Saturday and Sunday for the training. It was exhausting, eye-opening, and important. I was skeptical at first, as OWL is published by religious institutions. However, the program is secular, thoughtful, thorough, inclusive, modern, and pretty wonderful. I was in the group of teachers trained to facilitate workshops for Grades 7-12, and remarkably, Pamela Wilson, the author of the Grades 7-9 text, was one of our trainers! Kathleen Baldwin of the University of Indiana was our other trainer, and both women have decades of OWL training and implementing experience under their belt.
- Here’s a direct link to information and resources about OWL from Unitarian Universalist Association: http://www.uua.org/re/owl
- Here’s a direct link to information and resources about OWL from United Church of Christ: http://www.uua.org/re/owl