||Sarah Krakoski (2007) was a psychology major. The following is the description of her Fellowship project.
“For the past year I have been interning at the Alternative School in Salamanca, under the supervision of the school's social worker Mary Plonka. Last semester, in addition to mentoring and tutoring, I conducted two ‘girls groups’ in the afternoon.
“These groups consisted of five to seven girls each, and we met for an hour every Wednesday. I would provide lunch and we would
|do artwork, go on walks, and do self-exploration activities. The purpose of last semester’s girls groups was to build relationships and trust between myself and the girls, and among the girls in the group. Building and nurturing relationships was and is a key component to my project. This semester the focus on my fellowship is increasing the wellness of the girls in my groups.
“Franciscan values of investigation, wonder, reflection, understanding, knowledge, and love, along with the teachings of positive psychology, are all bases for my project. According to Martin Seligman, the director of University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
“Positive psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits consists of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom.
“Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.
“With the resources and opportunities that the fellowship has provided, I will be able to supply the girls group with many resources that will stay with the group and the school for years to come. To focus on female physical health, I will provide the groups with pilates mats and DVDs. We will also be doing segments of healthy eating patterns and lifestyles.
“Supplying the girls groups with many reading materials, such as books like Reviving Ophelia and Odd Girl Out, will allow each girl to have her own copy at school, from which we will read segments and hold discussions. These books are about real girls and their real life situations and how they have overcome adversity.
“Questionnaires examining the girls’ ‘signature strengths’ will be conducted, and the emphasis on the girls’ positive emotions, individual qualities, and institutions will also be emphasized. My position as a girls group leader will be carried on after I leave at Salamanca Alternative Ed. The resources supplied by the fellowship will also stay within the school and be used for girls groups.
“The young girls in my groups are smart, motivated, interesting, and very gifted. However, many of life’s circumstances have not allowed them to realize all that they offer to the world. Also, many times the stigma of attending an ‘alternative’ school leaves the students feeling inadequate or ‘not good enough.’ Hopefully the girls group will allow the individuals participating in it to see all that they are capable of, and will eventually start spreading into more institutions.”
Sarah's mentor was Michael Williams, Director of the Journey Project.