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A Summer of Inspiration: Merging Art and Nontraditional Learning in Math 

Summer break is a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, but it doesn’t have to be a break from learning. Pace’s year-round programming for girls ages 11-17 is crucial as it helps prevent learning loss, reinforces knowledge and skills, and provides opportunities for exploration and enrichment. 

New this summer, Pace Polk introduced “Art in Math,” a multidisciplinary learning incentive for girls. The immersive art experience led by Chloe Lynch, Program Assistant at Pace Polk, featured a famous artist each week and showcased how art relates to math.  

“Mathematics often conjures images of equations, formulas, and rigid problem-solving,” expressed Chloe. “However, incorporating art into math lessons introduces a creative twist that opens doors to a world of possibilities for our girls.” 

By integrating nontraditional and creative learning over the summer, we can: 

  • Foster Personal Growth: Nontraditional learning can offer unique experiences that challenge our girls to step out of their comfort zones, build resilience, and develop new skills. 
  • Bridge Educational Gaps: Creative learning can address educational gaps and inequalities. For girls who may lack access to certain resources, summer programs can provide additional support, resources, and experiences that contribute to their overall academic success. 
  • Promote Social Interaction: Art often involves group activities and collaborative projects. This fosters social interaction and teamwork, enabling our girls to build strong relationships and communication skills with their peers. 
  • Explore Career Interests: The “Art in Math” activities focused on career exploration, allowing girls to gain insights into different professions and industries. This exposure can help them make more informed decisions about their future educational and career paths. 

We spoke with Cailee, 14, a student at Pace Polk, who shared that her experience in Pace’s summer learning program offered more flexibility, allowing her to pursue topics and activities that align with her passions and preferences — one of those being art. 

“I think art is fun and beneficial because you get to see other people’s mindsets,” shared Cailee . “My favorite artist that we learned about this summer was Frida Khalo, a Mexican painter known for her many self-portraits. Her dedication to art and her community inspires me. I’ve learned at Pace that it doesn’t matter what background I came from and what I’ve been in the past — that I can be myself without any judgment.” 

Every day, our exceptional team of educators, counselors and therapists, work to create inclusive spaces that help girls realize and harness their power.  

Are you a girl who’s interested in Pace? Do you know a girl who may benefit from our programs? Click here to learn more about life at Pace and how you can enroll. 


Music, Food, and Community: How Pace Center for Girls Celebrates Caribbean-American Heritage Month

June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Caribbean-American identity. Since the United States’ founding, Caribbean Americans have enriched our country, sharing history, art, music, and more.

Rose Anderson is the Career and College Readiness Coordinator at Pace Broward. Her Caribbean-British heritage is incorporated and celebrated throughout her entire department at Pace.

She shared, “I celebrate my heritage every day I get a chance to breathe. I love and celebrate the fact that I come from a culture that exudes various genres of music, artforms, clothing, food and deep-rooted history. My parents are my heroes and my inspiration and have made me into the person I am today. I listen intently and connect to their stories, proverbs and ancestral anecdotes that continue to inspire me to be true to my legacy and I unashamedly celebrate that I am a Jamaican-British-American human being.”

For Pace Leon Associate Executive Director, Kristel Avilus, educating others about her Jamaican culture goes hand in hand with celebrating her heritage. From language to food to art, Kristel is proud to center her Jamaican identity at work. Kristel says: “I announce my Jamaican heritage by having Jamaican crafts, collectibles, books, and crafts, utilizing them in conversations with coworkers, donors, community partners and girls.” These physical objects are a powerful reminder of her pride in her identity.

Carley Vasquez, a counselor at Pace Leon, reflects: “I am intentional about celebrating my Puerto Rican and Colombian culture through food and music. Some of my favorite foods to enjoy are arepas con queso and pandebono.” At Pace Leon, girls and staff celebrated Caribbean-American Heritage Month through a catered lunch from a Haitian restaurant, Port 509.

Carley enjoys listening to Bad Bunny and Kali Uchis, Puerto Rican and Colombian artists, and Kristel listens to reggae and calypso music.

For Tina Swaby, a math teacher at Pace Broward, music is all about the community. Tina enjoys attending music and food festivals year-round, noting: “It is always an awesome experience to come together as a people from different countries and backgrounds to celebrate our oneness as Caribbean-Americans as well as offer the same experience to first timers!”

Pace serves thousands of girls from different cultural heritages across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. We are proud to create a safe and inclusive environment that recognizes and celebrates girls and team members for their rich heritages.


Together, We Have a Dream.

Our girls recognize they have an important role to play as young leaders — raising their voices to make a difference in their communities. And more importantly, they believe they can ignite future generations, as changemakers and inspiration for future Pace girls.

At a recent Pace Jacksonville showcase in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., girls shared how they see his dreams echoed in their generation. They performed spoken word, danced and used art as a means of self-reflection and recognition.

Hear from Pace girls:

I have a dream that one day the world will gather in unity and peace. We will join hands and decode the parables of the world, so it keeps us at ease. To make my dream happen, I will continue to spread charity and remind people that we are the dream, and we all have a purpose of being here. But we all have to help each other. There is no community without unity.” — Evie, Pace girl

I have a dream that one day I’ll be able to serve in my community and help all people no matter their walk in life, culture or economic position. And I will advocate for what’s right. Things I will do now to make sure my dream happens are graduate from high school, have a good attitude, focus on what I want, don’t let anything stop me and follow my dreams.” — Felecia, Pace girl

I have a dream that I will make my mom happy. The things that I will do to make my dream happen are finish school and go to the military. I will keep my dream alive.” — Zy’kariya, Pace girl

I have a dream that one day women will be shown respect regardless of the choices they make. That women can do everything that men can. That other women show all women love. Love is a strong thing in our day. Things that I will do now to make that dream happen are show each and every woman I meet love and care. I will protect women and do the best that I can.” — Kayla, Pace girl

Pace Jacksonville’s Performing Arts Club invites girls to engage, collaborate and raise their voices through music, art, dance and spoken word. The arts have a unique ability to capture stories while giving a voice to both individual and collective experiences.


Once a Pace Girl, Always a Pace Girl

Destiny is a former Pace Polk girl who overcame significant adversity in her journey from young woman to a substitute teacher, mother, and recent college graduate.

As a young woman Destiny described herself as “being allowed to do whatever I wanted,” raised in a household where her parents didn’t provide direction or guidance. The lack of structure and support led her to struggle in a traditional school setting.

Expelled from Sleepy Hill Middle School, Pace was the only option for school that Destiny was given. As an 11-year-old – the youngest girl in her class at Pace Polk – Destiny described the environment she found there as a sisterhood.

“I remember Miss Susan teaching me about my period and how to properly brush my teeth and what we should do if we didn’t have toothpaste, because she knew a lot of us didn’t,” Destiny recalled on her early time at Pace, pointing to how her experience helped her to build foundational skills she wasn’t getting elsewhere.

“It was rough,” Destiny shared. “Pace was full of girls just like me, so it was nice to not feel so alone.”

Destiny completed her sixth-grade year at Pace and afterward tried to go back to traditional school settings but found they didn’t fit like her experience at Pace had. She attempted different schools, dropping out a total of four times before she landed back at Pace.

Upon returning back to Pace, Destiny was able to focus and completed the rest of her middle and high school education. Reflecting back all these years later, Destiny recalls a teacher, Mrs. Laura, who provided her with a cap and gown at the Pace graduation ceremony because Destiny couldn’t afford her own. “It was like that one moment at the end of the year that will stay with me forever.” Destiny acknowledges that this simple act of kindness helped shape the person she would later become.

After finishing high school, Destiny focused on further establishing herself with her newly found skills. After 10 years, she turned back to education, graduating in 2021 from Hillsborough Community College with her Associates of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“Two years ago, I was hired by DCF at their Lakeland office. It was the first real job I ever had. Of all the people in the world I thought to share my good news with, I thought of my Pace social worker first. I tried to find her on social media, because I was just so proud of what I had done. She had such an impact on me that after more than 15 years without contact I wanted to share the good news with her first.”

Today Destiny is a substitute teacher, a wife, and a mother of two who is continuing on in her higher education journey with plans to pursue a law degree through Florida State University and subsequent graduate programs to become a lawyer. She drives a minivan, noting the enduring symbol of suburban normality, and admits, “I am not anything like you would expect someone with an upbringing like mine to be, and Pace should be credited with that.”

Reflecting on how Pace has impacted her relationship with her daughter, Destiny shared: “There was a Christmas program at Pace where we were gifted things our teachers thought fit our personality. I was gifted a book ‘The daring book for girls’ and bookmarked was a chapter my teacher thought I’d enjoy. I gave that book to my first-born daughter 11 years ago, and the sticky note she used still marks my favorite chapter to this day.”

Destiny feels the driving force which allowed her to persevere and succeed is hope. This sentiment is reflected in her advice for Pace girls, or other young people experiencing challenging situations:

“Everything that you go through is temporary. And you will get there. You just have to persevere.”


Pace Girls Share a Powerful Message of Belonging During the Holidays 

It’s OK to feel different about the holidays. For young women and girls, it is especially important to have access to resources that help them cope with seasonal stress, depression and anxiety brought on by the winter season.   

Pace Jacksonville’s Performing Arts Club invites girls to engage, collaborate and raise their voices through music, art, dance and spoken word. The arts have a unique ability to capture stories while giving a voice to both individual and collective experiences.  

Pace Jacksonville girls performed at Pace Center for Girls National Office.

We spoke with Pace girls about what inspired their recent spoken word performance: 

“Our inspiration for the piece was the reality of what Christmas can be for some people. It can be really hard. The poem represents that you can find happiness within yourself.” — Bri 

“We all came together and picked the songs that we like. We went off the vibe — if we all liked the song and if matched the message we wanted to send, then we chose it. It was very group based. I think that is what was best about the experience. Some people may not have a family, and do not have someone to spend the holidays with. Half the girls in the performance, I didn’t know before. And this experience brought us together.” — Jay    

“Our message was to spread joy to those who may not be having a good day.” — Destiny 

When asked about their favorite winter traditions and the girls shared: 

“I go to Puerto Rico every other Christmas, and we listen to the Parrandas [traditional Puerto Rican music] and attend all the festivities they have in Puerto Rico. We make gingerbread houses, eat traditional Puerto Rican food and have turkey.” — Jay    

“This year my family changed our typical tradition, and they let me decorate the tree. I put a hat on the top of the tree rather than a star. The hat represents the hat I usually wear.”  — Harper  

“My family and I hang out a lot during the year, but during Christmas it feels more special. It feels like a time for families to get together.  We spend a lot of time together cooking and enjoying each other’s company.” — Kayla  

Pace serves hundreds of girls from countless different backgrounds across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. We are proud to create a safe and inclusive environment that recognizes girls for their unique experiences and identities. 

Are you a girl who’s interested in Pace? Know a girl who may benefit from our programs? Click here to learn more about life at Pace and how you can enroll. Sometimes just asking a girl how she is doing can be a crucial step to prevention or to beginning a healing journey.