Your Voice Is My Favorite Sound: Lived Experiences of Royal Sapphires Members and Teachers at Regal Academy

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Elizabeth Essex


Safety, security, freedom of expression, love, and support are critical components for adolescent youth that encourage growth and development. This study explored how Black girls make sense of their educational experiences while partnering with school staff through the RoyalSapphires program. Children must be in relationships with well- intended caring adults to facilitate adolescent growth and leadership. This study included a focus group with school administrators in charge of the curriculum for the afterschool program; members participated in semi-structured interviews and focus groups with members of RoyalSapphires. The findings suggest that members felt safe with the coordinators of RoyalSapphires, which was critical in sharing and learning through the afterschool program. Additionally, participants enjoyed these curated spaces dedicated to girls being in fellowship with each other. Finally, the time spent with RoyalSapphires was a source of validation and joy at the end of the school day. The program coordinators outlined their intentions to create a welcoming program for members facilitated by adults with their best interests at heart. The themes from this study were instrumental in creating an action plan grounded in creating a curriculum designed with the needs of participants at the forefront and led by a 3–5-member advisor board. The advisory board will seek representatives who are trailblazers in education, business, and leadership domains to create programming to share with middle school administrators to pilot this afterschool curriculum in their location. Using Yosso's (2005) six types of Community of Cultural Wealth as an asset framework when working with students from marginalized backgrounds, the curriculum will be instrumental in creating practical programming relevant to participants while providing assessment throughout the program. Ultimately, this afterschool curriculum seeks to partner with Black girls to enhance their skills through an all-girl environment while introducing valuable topics and activities to spark leadership development for high school and beyond.


Adolescent Black, Afterschool Program, Leadership, Historically marginalized youth, Culturally Responsive Afterschool Curriculum

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