Girl Scouting’s highest honor bestowed for giving children at Nashua’s Ledge Street School outdoor learning experience
BEDFORD, NH | The idea of an inner city school might not immediately bring a New Hampshire school to mind - after all, New Hampshire is a fairly rural state with lots of open space. But at the Ledge Street School in Nashua, a large portion of students primarily speak Spanish, the school has one of the highest rates of free and reduced lunches due to the low-income population, and parents are afraid to let their children outside to play. When Girl Scout Katie Ferullo discovered that this was the case, she took action to give these students a safe space to get outside to play and learn. Thanks to her work, Ferullo has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.
The Girl Scout Gold Award shows she has taken on a project in her community that will stand the test of time, have a real and meaningful influence on people’s lives, and leave a lasting legacy.
For her Gold Award project, “Destination with a Purpose at Ledge Street School,” Katie, 17, of Pelham, worked with the school to create a more inviting environment for the students outdoors, and created a curriculum to be used by the young students to learn their colors.
“I wanted to do something that would engage students, to get them outside,” she said. “Project Learning Tree, about five or six years ago, made the outdoor classroom – a fenced-in space with gardens, a fish pond, but no seating. There was a gazebo, so I made benches, and wanted to use the curriculum they already used in school.” Habitat for Humanity and A Big Day of Serving, a church group, and many volunteers created the outdoor space.
“She’s done a lot of little projects,” said Donna Lapierre, her project advisor at the school. “There’s a chalkboard so you can teach outside.”
The lesson "Colors in the Garden" from Project Learning tree used colored beads. Katie adapted the lesson for the students at Ledge Street by cutting and painting wooden boards with the color names painted on the colors, for example- bright yellow on one side and amarillo vivo on the other. The color names range from basics like blue and red to more advanced names like magenta and lavender.
Lapierre expects the project to be useful for years to come.
“It’s an activity that people can just pick up and use,” she said. “EL (English language) teachers or anyone can go outside and find activities to do. There are lots of people who use the area, just go outside and read.”
Reading is a key part of the project, and Katie created signposts that direct children toward places in books like Hogwarts, the Shire, Oz, or Fern Gully, to inspire their reading journey.
Katie had assistance from her family. Her brothers helped guide her on making benches, and her mother, a teacher at Ledge Street School, also helped.
Visiting her mother at school, Katie realized how different the students’ lives were from her own experience. “They didn’t have back yards. They weren’t allowed to go outside. My school had big fields,” she said. “It was beneficial to my learning. I realized that children benefit in different ways. Not every child can learn from one certain thing.”
The Nashua Telegraph reported last December that the Ledge Street School ranked 434 of 491 schools in the state, and is a Title I school which qualifies it for in-school reading and math support, preschool experiences and educational supplies and materials. Almost half its K-5 students speak Spanish, despite only 8 percent of the Nashua population being Hispanic or Latino.
“The fact that she was trying to improve our space was nice,” said Lapierre. “The benches will be there for years to come. That’s huge. That gives you a little more structure.” The gazebo allows the whole class to read together, with each student having space to sit.
Katie is planning to attend Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., a small Christian liberal arts college, where she will continue her passion for helping people by taking on a double major in social work and sociology.
Katie exemplifies the Girl Scout DNA and takes the lead as a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Risk-Taker, Innovator, Leader)™. To earn her Gold Award, each Girl Scout identifies and develops a Take Action project in her community that will stand the test of time, have a real and meaningful influence on people’s lives, and leave a legacy that lasts forever. It is one of the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding experiences a girl can have, and one of the most prestigious recognitions she’ll accomplish in life. And it’s only available at Girl Scouts.
Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. Gold Award Girl Scouts are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
- Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
- The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
- Since 1916, 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
- Gold Award Girl Scouts who join the armed forces enter one rank higher than other recruits.
- University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
- A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
- 16 young women earned their Gold Award in the 2017-18 membership year in New Hampshire and Vermont as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.