The CAG Update

CAG Update: January 2022

During a recent Upper School assembly, The Center for the Advancement of Girls paid tribute to writer, activist, and feminist icon bell hooks, who recently passed away. Hooks challenged us to consider and engage with a more nuanced concept of sisterhood — one that acknowledges the layers and complexities of our identities and centers different voices and experiences. As we embrace a new year, we share with you with this powerful message from bell hooks:

“The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.”

Every Girl, Every Day: CAG Programming

AthLEADs Seminar #2: Self-Awareness 

Saint Joseph’s University Director of Athletics, Jill Bodensteiner, inspired student-athletes in the second AthLEADs seminar of the year. Jill detailed her career path to her current role, where she is an admired leader in a male-dominated industry.  Following her presentation, the girls completed a worksheet that focused on recognizing the impact that emotions and moods have on others. The seminar wrapped up with teams sharing ideas about concrete, actionable steps they could take to react positively when faced with adversity.

Owls For Life: Welcome back, Laura Wagoner Manion ’09

CAG and the Alumnae Relations Office hosted Agnes Irwin alum Laura Wagoner Manion ‘09 to talk about her career in public service. The presentation was part of the new Upper School Flex Well Program, designed to support girls’ well-being by introducing them to career options as well as pathways to community service.

Laura works as the Manager for the Great Lakes region at the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than three million businesses. Since its founding more than a century ago, the Chamber has worked to deliver the voice of business developments in Washington, D.C., and to advance policies that create jobs and strengthen the economy.


CAG in the Community

Service Spotlight

CORE Day: Community
On December 17th, students, faculty, and staff worked together on several service projects, outreach efforts, and community building activities, all centered around the theme of community, one of the CORE values of The Agnes Irwin School. Community is a core value for AIS that we seek to emphasize in all aspects of our curriculum and practices. Serving vulnerable communities and coming together as a community to promote important causes are just two ways that we highlight this core value.

During our most recent CORE day, 12th grade students helped younger students create festive puzzles for elderly neighbors, 11th grade students caroled virtually for a local nursing home, 10th grade students decorated cookies, and students from all grade levels worked together in groups to create beautiful “stained glass” window hangers for local retirement home residents.The Freshman class created fun dance instruction videos to post on Movement Exchange, an organization that teaches dance to children around the world.

virtual caroling

dance videos


Experiential Learning

The Senior Economics class prepares students for a range of financial literacy tasks, including preparing them to start their own business. This fall, as the class created their own sweatshirt business, students had the opportunity to meet with business leaders in a series on female entrepreneurship. Students interacted with business owners at their place of business, on the AIS campus, and over Zoom.

Speaking from her jewelry production facility in Wayne, Jane Winchester Paradis of Jane Win Jewelry told students about how she started her business, initial struggles she faced running it out of her home, and how she pivoted to launching a jewelry business after a career in advertising and marketing. Jane also showed students her brand book and explained how they could go about analyzing the marketplace for their own endeavors. Finally, she gave key insights into how to market directly to consumers and effective ways to structure social media campaigns in the current marketplace.

From Paris, Apollonia Poilane of Poilane Bakery, spoke to students about running her family's successful bakery while also studying at Harvard. Apollonia took over her family's bakery as a young woman when her parents passed away suddenly. Although Poilane is a world-renowned brand, our students learned that even a successful business must sometimes close locations in order to stay profitable. Further, Apollonia encouraged students to discover their passion and rely on friends and strong business partners to get through tough times.

Gwenn Nolan of Mother Compost visited The Agnes Irwin School in person to discuss her local compost business. Nolan walked students through the basics of building a local business and growing her clientele through grassroots efforts. She presented insights into the actual costs of labor, vehicles, overhead, and marketing so that students were able to accurately predict Mother Compost’s annual budget and cashflow by the conclusion of her talk. 

Eda Messner of EdaMama Hair Salon spoke to  students about her successful kids salon in Brooklyn, New York. Eda presented her financial and P&L statements so that students could analyze how a business manages its day-to-day operations. Eda commented on the  importance of raising adequate funding before launching a business and shadowing peer  businesses to understand the big picture.. >

Victoria Widegren of Morgan Hill Home visited Agnes Irwin to speak about her interior design business and emphasized that anyone with drive and enthusiasm can start a business.

She explained the importance of regulations and budgeting, how business owners pay themselves, and gave practical advice about balancing slow business periods with rushes in order to stay afloat. 

On the Horizon

CAG Speaker Series 2021-2022

Each year the Center partners with departments across AIS to bring engaging speakers to our community. These presentations provide opportunities for families to listen, learn, and become empowered as parents of girls.

Save the dates for our next two speakers and feel free to preview their work below:

Jessica Lahey on Wednesday, March 16
Register for Jessica Lahey's session

Julie Lythcott-Haims on Thursday, April 6

Families in Partnership: Resources to Support Your Daughter