Thomas Jefferson

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Women’s History Month

Posted 03/17/2019 by Halle Bristow

Thomas Jefferson High School staff members (left to right) Anette Bowser, Julie Thibodeau, Sarah Cantrell, and Sarah Flynn pose for a photo.

Women’s History Month is an annual celebration every March that commemorates strong and empowering women who have changed our society for the better. Let us take a look at a few select women who have added to the community and who we immensely value here at TJ.

Anette Bowser
According to Ladies of Value, over 70% of girls ages 15 to 17 believe that they will never be enough or will never measure up in some way to their expected performance in school, relationships, and life. Low self-esteem such as this can lead to harmful activities like substance abuse, bullying, eating disorders, depression, and even self-harm. Growing up, Bowser was one of these youths at risk due to the lack of guidance and structure in her life. “I’ve been a part of the TJ community since 2005,” stated Bowser, “I was a student here and I had an opportunity to walk the halls. Now, I love that I have the chance to come back and make a difference in a place that made a difference in me.” Bowser founded the mentoring club, Ladies of Value, or L.O.V.E. for short. L.O.V.E.’s mission is to positively impact young girls in a way that shows them their unique value in life as well as to help prepare them for adulthood by teaching authentic life skills. She comments, “there’s a saying that a rising tide raises all ships. When the odds are already against you, your biggest support system comes from the people who are on the same playing field as you are.” This was Bowser’s motivation for L.O.V.E., she aspires to develop well-rounded women in education, finances, and teach them to have a genuine love for themselves. Bowser’s passion for empowering the young women here at TJ is genuinely admirable.

Julie Thibodeau
Thibodeau is TJ’s site assessment leader. She plays an essential part in making sure all assessment materials including tests, teacher guides, and results are accounted for and complied. She also helps to assist every teacher, counselor, and staff member if they have any questions or concerns about the process. Throughout her time here at TJ, she has encountered many different students and parents who might not understand the madness of testing in preparation for career success. This has inspired Thibodeau to work with, not only with the students and their families but also with her colleagues to ensure that there is no confusion about the testing process. Thibodeau brings a sense of cohesiveness and affinity to the TJ community, ameliorating those around her. Thibodeau comments, “it is super important to uplift each other, my colleagues and I share great experiences, but we can work together and complement each other despite our different perspectives. That is why TJ is as great as it is because we all work together and take care of each other.” Thibodeau loves working with all the students here at TJ, watching them come in a little immature, yet seeing their growth and the amazing people they become. When she was growing up, her family had been stuck in a cycle of conventionalized women and dissuaded them from joining the workplace. Thibodeau states, “even though my family was made up of amazing and capable women who choose not to enter the workforce, I choose not to follow in their footsteps and make my own path. I decided I could be who I want to be.” Her venture off to college started as a confounding action to her family; however, it gave her the independence she needed, and eventually, they grew proud of all she has accomplished. She strives to provide an encouraging and uplifting perspective to the young students at TJ, stating that, “you need to stand up and let your opinions and voice been known, to go after what you want in life without intimidation from external forces. We each have amazing qualities and something to give the world; all you have to do is believe in yourself.”

Sarah Cantrell
Cantrell comes from a uniquely diverse and itinerant background. Born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa, she grew up with a passion for traveling and learning. Both her parents were teachers, and she attended an International School in Nigeria for 18 years. She loves being around people who are of diverse nationalities, enforcing the belief that there is something deeply immersing about being around other lifestyles, stating, “people who come from different countries and speak different languages can all bring something from their culture to our community, which can help to broaden our horizons.” With her passion for language, it is no surprise that Cantrell later became an English Second Language (ESL) teacher her as TJ. Students who come from different backgrounds and are continuing with their English or just learning the language can come to Cantrell for a helpful hand. Cantrell has been teacher in the district for 23 years, empowering English Language Learner (ELL) students with her experience, knowledge, and ability to assist with their education. Cantrell has had many vastly unique and diversified experiences throughout her life, leading her to testify about not only her personal encounters with other empowering women around her, but also to the importance of Women’s History Month. “Women’s History Month is about women, either current or in history, who have had positive contributions to society,” she explains, “whether it is a life skill or an emotion, we can all learn from a woman who has been a positive influence in our lives.” To the TJ community, she embodies this principle with her dedication to her students, and we truly value her presence is truly valued within the school.

Sarah Flynn
Flynn is the head Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for the Denver Health based clinic here at TJ. She has helped to diagnose chronic illnesses and mental health concerns to make life easier and less stressful, providing a support system for the students. Flynn sees a lot a students who have very different life experiences growing up, which leads her to value the importance of diversity even more. “It’s important to grow up surrounded by diverse populations because it gives you a better perspective and appreciation for differences and support that,” Flynn remarks. Growing up, Flynn had three older sisters, who are all very confident and strong women, making her appreciate the potential everyone has, never leaving her feeling inferior. “I want to empower young women to feel that way because, yes, there is inequality, but they should never feel less capable or less able. I enjoy working with young women the most because I want them to feel confident and be a role model for them,” she affirms. Her advice to the younger generation is to be proud of themselves. She encourages people to reach as far as they can and set their sights high, and not feel limited by other people’s expectations. She implores everyone to be kind and understanding, with the reminder that, “it will get you a lot further than being critical of yourself.”