The Girls Academic Leadership Academy, Dr. Michelle King School for STEM (GALA) is the first all-girls public school in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and in fact in the State of California.
MISSION: Striving to increase the percentage of women, particularly women of color, entering the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in California, GALA’s mission is to provide a rigorous college preparatory education for girls in grades 6 through 12 focusing on STEM.
ALL-GIRLS PUBLIC SCHOOL: GALA provides a free public all-girls educational model to girls within the Los Angeles area. Prior to the establishment of GALA only families who could afford the high price tag of a private school education were able to take advantage of an all-girls education. All girls models have been shown to be highly effective educational models particularly for girls of color (Riordan, 1994). Single-gender schools graduate students at a 30% higher rate than co-ed schools, and they graduate girls interested in STEM majors at a six times higher rate than co-ed schools do (Sax, Arms, Woodruff, Riggers, & Eagan, 2009).
STEM: GALA provides girls with a unique hands-on STEM curricula focusing on the collaborative and inquiry based skills needed in STEM fields. GALA students take increasingly challenging coursework. High school offerings include 17 Advanced Placement courses. GALA's AP STEM enrollment is considerably higher than the state and national averages. These skills are enhanced by a variety of choice electives starting in 6th grade including robotics, engineering, aeronautics, mathletes, and broadcast journalism. Additionally, students are provided with an array of female STEM role models through the predominantly female STEM teaching staff, guest speakers in STEM courses and an annual Young Women's Career Day with over 100 speakers representing 45 industries.
LEADERSHIP: Girls are encouraged in leadership throughout the school from the development of public speaking skills beginning in 6th grade, the encouragement of using one's voice, the student initiation and formation of clubs, currently 40 strong, a 6th through 12th grade student government, the development of GALA Ambassadors and the encouragement of non-traditional leadership.
GROWTH MINDSET: Throughout the school teachers expose Growth Mindset based on the work of Carol Dwek. You will often hear girls saying “I don’t know this yet, but I know I will learn it.” An advisory system with twenty girls and a teacher-advisor anchors the students to the school. The advisory curriculum was formulated through established programs such as The Ophelia Project, Second Step and Community Circles as well as teacher generated materials around trauma informed practices and attention to racial and social justice.
GRADUATION: The class of 2020, our first graduating class defied the odds. Educational trends show us that girls of color graduate at a rate of 75%, and of those graduating approximately 55% enroll in college with only 22% majoring in a STEM field. The class of 2020 at GALA has a 100% graduation rate. They completed a rigorous STEM curriculum consisting of 4 years of science, 4 years of mathematics and 2 years of computer science. All of the girls completed AP Computer Science, and 60% completed AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics and AP Calculus. All of the girls except one will go on to college with the one exception going to the Airforce to fulfill her dream of becoming a pilot. Eighty-eight percent of these girls will be first generation college attendees with 75% planning on a major in engineering or biology.
Defying the odds, participating in rigorous project-based STEM courses, developing social emotional skills focusing on resilience, collaboration and leadership are the cornerstones of the GALA educational experience.
NUMBER OF GIRLS (2020-2021): 640
GRADES: 6-12th grades.
DIVERSITY: GALA is one of the most diverse schools in Los Angeles, providing geographic, economic, and racial diversity.
DEMOGRAPHICS: GALA students come from 81 zip codes in Los Angeles and 154 feeder schools.
ECONOMIC: GALA is a Title 1 Community Economic Partner school with 60% of the students qualifying for the federal free and reduced lunch program.
ETHNICITY: Seventy-five percent of our students are girls of color with 35% Latinx, 25% Caucasian, 18% African American,14% Asian, and 8% mixed race or other.
LANGUAGES: Over 35 languages other than English are spoken at home.