Pinecrest Elementary School teacher Crystal Tejera is so passionate about personal development that she created a program for first-grade girls at Pinecrest called the All Girls Growth Mindset Coaching Club. Parents were so excited with the idea that registration in the club was filled within the first hour.
“With the support of Pinecrest Elementary School’s Principal Lynn Zaldua, who has always supported building confidence and growth mindset of students, I’ve taken my own passion for personal development and reshaping our mindsets and created a program that is developmentally appropriate for young girls,” explains Tejera.
“Most kids have confidence issues and can resort to negative thinking,” she says. “Our program’s goal is to inspire and nurture the universal ideas of kindness, love, courage, confidence and passion for what we enjoy.”
The club was launched in the fall of 2018 and meets once a week after school. Participation is limited to 10 students and the program runs two semester sessions over the course of the school year. Among the lessons covered include topics such as Follow your heart and Believe in yourself.
“I use a variety of materials with the girls, ranging from non-fiction stories with inspirational lessons, to poetry, music, arts and crafts,” says Tejera. “We read together, then discuss the underlying messages of resilience, courage and hope, which teaches the girls that they can fulfill their dreams just like the characters in the lessons. The goal is to build self-confidence and to let them exercise their skills of self-expression.”
Club members’ mothers are so happy with the program that some have suggested Tejera create one for them.
“The program is very beneficial because it’s teaching them self-worth and the power of confidence,” says Sandra Johnson, whose daughter is a club member. “I love how Ms. Tejera explores these social situations through literature, arts and crafts, music and tailored lessons.”
Tejera is a Miami native who earned a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Miami. She also partners with Little Lighthouse Foundation to work with homeless and abused women and children at Lotus House in Overtown. It was there that she realized that teaching growth mindset and personal transformation is needed universally, regardless of a person’s socioeconomic status.
When she’s not busy teaching the First Grade Gifted Program students at Pinecrest Elementary School, Tejera coaches students and moderates personal transformation summits for adults in South Florida. She’s also passionate about tools for incorporating wellness and mindfulness into one’s daily life.
“One of the big lessons of the All Girls Growth Mindset Coaching Club is that it’s not about being perfect. It’s OK to make mistakes because that gives us an opportunity to refine and reset our thinking and become better human beings. And isn’t that what education is all about?”