by Shekeria Chisolm, Strong Women, Strong Girls intern
Each week, our mentors go into our partner schools and after-school programs to teach young girls about strong women and the skills they developed throughout their lives. But have you ever stopped to think that we – as adult women – can also learn a thing or two from the curriculum?
Just last Saturday, we at the Strong Women, Strong Girls Pittsburgh office were supposed to hold our annual spring training for our undergraduate mentors. Unfortunately, we got some very bad weather the night before. A few hours before training was supposed to commence, we had already received between 1 and 3 inches of snow, it was still snowing, and layers of ice were covering parts of the roads. At the last minute, we received a phone call from the host facility saying that the campus was closed but they could still try to find a way to let us have out training.
Waking up to this situation required some skills. We had planned every intricate detail of training from beginning to end; from how the main room was supposed to look to who was going where to clean up rooms used by presenters. However, this snow wasn’t looking too good, nor was it creating the best travel conditions. Because of this and the fact that the campus was shut down, we used our decision-making skills to make the executive decision to cancel training. It was better to cancel than to continue and have about 10 people out of 163 show up. Making this decision required some flexibility on our part. Although we had training well planned out, we had to have some flexibility in order to roll with the situation and formulate a new plan for the new circumstances.
Canceling such a big event also required a lot of teamwork and communication skills. We as a staff had to come together to get the word out to everyone that training had been canceled. It was the 6 o’clock hour and training started at 8:30am, so we had around 2 hours to notify 163 mentors, 20 presenters, volunteers, and staff. That were a lot of people to notify, but it had to be done – and done quickly and efficiently. Once the staff was notified, we banded together to send out emails and make phone calls to everyone who had confirmed their attendance. Out of about 200 people that were notified, only 4 showed up not knowing what was going on.
Now, we have initiated Plan B. This plan includes contacting Chapter Directors to arrange a new date and time for training new mentors, making sites with all or a majority new mentors a priority. We will also be working to reschedule our Leadership Coach session and contacting our Site Monitor volunteers to meet at a convenient time and location to ensure that everyone is clear on the site visit schedule.
This situation – The Spring Training That Wasn’t – showed us that you never stop learning or applying your skills to your everyday life.