Deb Malouf's inspiration and drive are crystal clear. But they have nothing to do with personal recognition or individual accolades. In fact, it's not about her at all. And that's exactly how she likes it.
"What motivates me to do what I do is the enjoyment I get out of working with these amazing teenagers every day," said Malouf, an educator at the Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona. "I just love their energy. I especially like bearing witness to their metamorphosis when they are with us for four years-it's wonderful."
The Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona (GLAAZ) is the first public single-gender charter high school in our state that empowers young women to succeed as leaders in their classrooms, in their communities, and in their own lives.
Malouf would know all about that as she's been along for the journey since the inaugural class came together in 2011.
"I can hardly believe it's been four years since these seniors came into my room and challenged me to not only remember their names, but to pronounce them correctly," she said. "They were bouncy and excited and extremely motivated to do well-and they have."
Malouf and her colleagues are a big reason for that success. You see, her impact on these young women doesn't start and end with Sophomore English or Public Speaking. Malouf's students have the opportunity to experience life outside of the classroom, which has primed them to achieve success long after they step out of the grasp of GLAAZ.
"Currently, the seniors are making decisions about where to attend college, what to study, and the hard part: how to pay for all of that. They are making the kinds of decisions that will inform their decision making process in the future, and they are doing a great job analyzing the schools and dollars, assessing their abilities, trying to keep their dreams a part of the decision while remaining pragmatic...such an exercise in adulthood," she said. "But they are prepared. GLAAZ has guided them to become critical thinkers, self-advocates, ambassadors for excellence, and proactive in their quest for success."
Malouf spearheads the GLAAZ Yearbook Club, and she's piloted student participation in the Junior Achievement You're Hired! Challenge, the Arizona Latino Media Association Journalism Workshop and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Spring Convention.
The impact she's had on so many young women is obvious. But just as great is the impact those young women have had on Deb Malouf. "Watching them grow in size and abilities, both academic and emotional, has been an inspiration to me because they have shown such resiliency and fortitude through all the ups and downs they have encountered," she said. "One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that they bought into the mission and vision of GLAAZ in the same way the faculty did-100 percent."