Cool Girls with Tag: teacher

Claire Koster

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster HeadshotName: Claire Koster
Age: 18
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Student, STEM Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Volunteer

At only 18 years old, Claire Koster already has made an impact on her community, running the Women’s Advocacy Group at her high-school, volunteering at a homeless outreach center, assisting in a STEM program, studying to become an educator, and speaking out for those who confront societal challenges.

Her empathy and compassion are what spurred her to apply action to her emotion.

“When you see that there are obstacles keeping people from joy or security or happiness, those obstacles become yours, too, in certain ways. I have a younger brother with Down Syndrome who is the most fantastic human I have ever met in my life, and once I was old enough to understand that he would have a harder time living the life he desired than I may have, it made me want to understand what causes those sorts of obstacles and how they can be solved. That totally snowballed into caring deeply about the ways other forms of identity cause one to be marginalized,” she explains.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster with her brother standing in front of a river.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Claire took over running the Women’s Advocacy Group at her conservative, Catholic, all-female high-school after the founder graduated.

Trees with text: "Love has the kind of power cynicism only wishes it had." -Bob Goff“There were certain topics that pertain intensely to gender equality but we weren’t able to talk about as openly as we would have liked to because they did not align politically with Catholic values. That was certainly frustrating, but meant that we chose to take our conversations in a direction of opening a dialogue about gender and equality in a way that felt accessible to everyone. It was exciting to see how willing people were to enter into that dialogue,” she says.

Beyond her education and in-school advocacy, Claire also volunteered her services at the Marian STEM Club, an enrichment activity that was offered as part of their curriculum.

“Marian Middle School has an extended-day, extended-year model, so from 4:00-5:30 each day the students choose an enrichment to participate in. Each Thursday, we would come and do STEM activities with about 12 students,” she says. “It has been such a joy to get to grow in community with the students and learn with and from them.”

Text image: "The nonevent is the best part of life."Outside of school and supplemental activities, Claire also spends time at the St. Patrick’s Center, a homeless outreach organization, where she volunteers during their Women’s Nights, where they make, serve, and eat dinner with the women seeking shelter and assistance.

As she prepares for college, Claire looks forward to becoming a teacher herself.

“I’m currently majoring in secondary teaching, and I will study either sociology or english, or maybe both! I have been so incredibly impacted by teachers who have supported me and seen me as someone more capable than I saw myself. That sounds trite, but is such a deeply impactful thing. I can’t think of a better way to spend my life than to seek to do that for others.”

What wisdom does this brilliant young lady have for other young girls who, like her, are growing up and trying to do the best they can with what they were given?

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster with her brother, close up.“I think that as we get older, we discover things about ourselves that prevent us from “fitting in” with the people around us. We’ve been told that, one day, these things will be our superpowers. But they certainly aren’t yet, or at least they don’t feel that way. My best advice is to learn to sit with those things. You don’t have to love them, you don’t have to show them off or build a life around them, but try your best not to push them down and away from you, because one day, you and I will both realize that they are superpowers, and we will want them back.”

For her maturity, poise, benevolence, and grace, we think Claire Koster is an incredible human being and one super Cool Girl!

A $200 donation was made to Marian Middle School on behalf of Claire. You can donate here.

100 Cool Girls

Since we initiated our Cool Girl movement in 2009 we’ve featured scientists, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, hopers, dreamers, and doers. We’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know a lot of amazing women of all ages doing amazing things. And as of December 2017, we hit 100 Cool Girls!

But, who is a Cool Girl? A Cool Girl is someone who defends awesome: an everyday superhero! Someone who exudes positivity, and leads by example. Cool Girls make a difference in their communities and the world, challenge the norm, and aren’t afraid to be themselves.

We’d like to take this momentous occasion to highlight some individuals who have made a lasting impression. Each and every Cool Girl is inspiring, but if we included them all this post would be, well, 100 Cool Girls long. So, please use this as a teaser of truly extraordinary women and then take a look through the whole blog.

Know some inspirational women yourself? Nominate them to be a Cool Girl. They may get featured here, get some cool socks, and might also get some support for a project or charity of their choice.

If you just want to give a shout out to a really awesome woman in your life, you can also leave a comment.

Graphic Novelist and Cool Girl Lucy KnisleyLucy Knisley
Graphic novel artist & author
Featured 2016

Lucy has been drawing since she was a kid, publishing comics since she was 19, and published her first graphic novel when she was 21! A lot of her work is autobiographical including growing up with her chef mom (Relish), jet-setting around the world (Age of License), and her work in progress about becoming a parent (Kid Gloves). Read more.

“Other girls and women in cool professions are the best and greatest resource you can possibly imagine. Hold up your fellow lady, and your fellow lady will hold you up!” -Lucy Knisley, Cool Girl

Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher and Cool Girl Roxanne ModafferiRoxanne Modafferi
Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher
Featured 2014

Roxanne started practicing Tae Kwon Do in grade school after watching Power Rangers and trained hard to make it onto The Ultimate Fighter 18! She’s triumphed over injuries and ill-timed food poisoning to not only win fights, but teach and write (Memoirs of a Happy Warrior). Read more.

“I was greatly influence by TV superheros who always did the right thing no matter how troublesome, and saved people.” -Roxanne Modaferri, Cool Girl

Irene Gabashvili
Founder of Aurametrix, Inc
Featured 2012

Irene realized there was a serious need for people to be able to alleviate symptoms for certain chronic ailments and conditions on their own. She developed Aurametrix which is like a digital nurse that looks at all of the different details that can contribute to a person’s symptoms in order to figure out what parts of their life are making them feel better or worse. Read more.

“Believe in yourself, dream and aim high. Don’t be afraid to ask successful people for advice.” -Irene Gabashvili, Cool Girl

Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc and Cool Girl Anna SternAnna Stern
Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc
Featured 2012

Anna is Vice President of one of the largest construction companies in the country. Not only is she a powerful figure in a male-dominated industry, she helps host events like Kids Building Wisconsin, which bring attention and support for the construction workforce she oversees. She also supports events for Women Building Wisconsin, an organization that helps connect women within the construction industry and find newer members mentors. Read more.

“I would say the best advice would be to find a good mentor. I’ve been blessed to have great mentors throughout my career and have benefited from their guidance, experience, and willingness to stand up for me.” -Anna Stern, Cool Girl

Artist, Activist and Cool Girl Lindsay AmerLindsay Amer
Artist, Activist
Featured 2017

Lindsay created her YouTube channel Queer Kid Stuff to bridge the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids. Lindsay creates fun, easily accessible videos made for children featuring inclusive, queer storylines. She powers through online harassment to push for “a kinder and more equal future.” She does have a lot of supportive fans, though, growing every day! Read more.

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.” -Lindsay Amer, Cool Girl

BMX Champion Payton and Cool Girl "P-Nut!" RidenourPayton “P-Nut!” Ridenour
Being a kid!
Featured 2012

Payton has been riding since she was 5 and started competing in BMX at a high level when she was 7 and even qualified for the World Championships. She’s traveled all over the United States racing and making a name for herself. She advises other girls interested in the sport: (Read more.)

“They should know that this is an aggressive sport. You need to dress for the crash and not for the ride. But most of all, you need to keep it fun.” -Payton Ridenour, Cool Girl

Co-Founder Petal and Cool Girl Julie WagneJulie Wagne
Co-Founder Petal
Featured 2016

Julie co-founded Petal, which fosters a partnership between artists, designers, and weavers in West Africa and San Francisco. She and her partner Ibrahima are committed to providing resources to tribal villages and communities, to exceeding fair wages, giving security to families, and protecting the cultural heritage of the Fulani people that inspires their textile creations. All this while helping provide education for children in West Africa. (Read more.)

“If you want to do something, do it. Believe in yourself and keep going!” -Julie Wagne, Cool Girl

Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder and Cool Girl Sharon LinSharon Lin
Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder
Featured in 2016

Sharon founded two non-profits to educate girls about technology, has written for publications including Huffington Post, and has started hackathons to spark creative development across communities and industries…all this before she graduated High School. Sharon wasn’t done inspiring other students to pursue computer science, so she also founded BitxBit Camp, which partners middle schoolers with older mentors and opportunities to develop projects. (Read more.)

“Never lose hope of the goals you have, and never let anyone else talk you out of them by saying you’re not good enough, or that you’re not meant for this. Seek out mentors if you can, or find older girls who you admire, and befriend them.” -Sharon Lin, Cool Girl

Biology Lecturer and Cool Girl Joan ManasterJoan Manaster
Biology Lecturer
Featured 2010

Ever wanted to see Gummi Bears get liquefied by sound waves? This Cool Girl has you covered. Joan works as a lecturer for students studying for their Masters of Science in Teaching Biology, but she wants to reach as many people as possible when it comes to the wonders of science. She thinks it’s especially important that women and girls see science as exciting and are able to see more women in STEM roles. She’s fueling this push with her website and Twitter. (Read more.)

“I find myself with a strong desire to have more women in science be seen and heard, as I think this could really influence young ladies. I hope to accomplish this by creating something of an Internet ‘science channel’ featuring video segments that highlight women in science, and to challenge more of them to be visible in this realm.” -Joan Manaster, Cool Girl

Polished Girlz Founder and Cool Girl Alanna WallAlanna Wall
Polished Girlz Founder
Featured 2015

Alanna founded Polished Girlz to bring nail parties to those who couldn’t treat themselves to a nail salon. This non-profit visits those hospitalized due to illness or those with special needs who might not be able to paint their own nails and does it for them! While bringing them a little color and company, it also teaches the importance of frequent hand-washing to reduce infection transmission and the potential for resulting hospital visits. (Read more.)

“For girls facing any challenges, I would like to tell them that they are strong and brave and that I am honored to be able to make you smile even if it is just a little while.” -Alanna Wall, Cool Girl

Jami Swindell

Name: Jami Swindell
Age: 33
Location: St. Louis, Missouri and Urbana, Illinois
Occupation: Doctoral Student, Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant, College of Education, Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Teaching Assistant and Doctoral Student Jami Swindell took to teaching before she was even out of school, finding her way into early childhood education prior to graduating high school

“I actually started teaching swimming lessons at the local community pool as a teenager. I really liked teaching the classes with the youngest children where we “learned through play” with games like Mr. Frog and Splash-around-the-Rosie.” Jami explains. “From there, I was able to work as a pre-school assistant and school-age teacher at a small child care center in my hometown.”

Continuing on her compassionate path, Jami began working with children who had special needs in a local child care center.

“I found myself making sure that all the children were included in activities, planning activities to meet the needs of the children who needed more support,” she says.

Working with a diverse demographic throughout her academic career, she went on to take part in the Child Development Lab at the University of Missouri and the Child Development Center at Missouri State University, focusing her studies on children with special needs and their families. It was from there that she decided to also extend a helping hand to professionals within special education through Project BLEND.

“Project BLEND focuses on preparing professionals within Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention for infants and toddlers with special needs,” Jami explains. “It supports professional development to blend practices within the fields of Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention to support interactions between systems, smooth transitions for families and shared policy or advocacy efforts.”

It also acts as a facilitator bringing research into practice, while championing those strategies that have been proven effective within Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education. It helps those professionals within the field gain experience at the local, state and federal level while also providing opportunities to participate in teaching, research, and service, including internships and shared research projects. It’s a collaborative approach, providing information, services, and training, while also remaining engaged with the families and special needs children within the community.

Jami spends much of her time in the classroom, either as a student or a teaching assistant. She also works as a research assistant for a statewide training program that provides webinars, meetings, and training collaboration for early intervention providers. Beyond her work, she is also a member of on campus committees, including acting as the Vice-President for the Special Education Graduate Student Association.

After her doctorate is completed, Jami hopes to create policy and sustainable systems grounded in research-based practices within Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education.

“I hope to continue to share my knowledge on child development, family-centered practices, and inclusive educational practices with other professionals through teaching and providing workshops at conferences. This leads to my other goals – traveling, building connections within the field while supporting my friends and family in meeting their own goals!” Jami says.

And what does this student educator suggest as life-based homework for young girls out there?

“Aim high, set your goals and make plans to achieve them! Rely on those who love and support you when you need them. When you reach one goal, make another and work hard to achieve it!”

Some sage advice from one wise teacher, we think Jami Swindell is one Cool Girl!

Roxanne Modaferri

Name: Roxanne Modafferi
Age: 32
Location:  Las Vegas
Occupation: Professional Fighter / Writer/ Teacher

Roxanne - The Happy WarriorSuperheroes aren’t just for comic books if you look at Roxanne Modafferi! This Vegas-based pro fighting lady can kick butt in a variety of martial arts, and has even made it onto The Ultimate Fighter 18!

Initially intrigued by cartoon TV tussles, Roxanne found herself practicing Tae Kwon Do in grade school after watching Power Rangers.

“I was greatly influenced by TV superheros who always did the right thing no matter how troublesome, and saved people,” she says. She cites Dragon Ball Z fighters, Naruto, and those famous Power Rangers as some of her favorites.

While Tae Kwon Do was her first foray into fistacuffs, she wasn’t satisfied to stay within one realm.

“I got into Kempo karate, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and then my jiu-jitsu friends showed me Mixed Martial Arts and I started practicing it with them,” she explains.

Roxanne During A FightBut unlike most kids who just have fun fighting, Roxanne took it a bit further. She took up MMA and became a bit of a superstar as well as a superheroine. She even got on television as a real-life warrior, no cartoon fireballs or animation required.

But it hasn’t all been easy. After fighting for so many years, her body sometimes lets her know that she is, in fact, mortal.

“My biggest challenge is up-keeping my body,” she admits. “I’ve been fighting for eleven years and I have a lot of nagging injuries. Some days I feel great, some days I’m in too much pain to train.”

And there have been many KOs delivered by circumstance interspersed with her victories. A nasty bout of food poisoning in Japan led to her having to pull out of a fight. Also, a super-scary knee injury that she feared would lead her to permanently buckle. Fortunately, she’s triumphed over all of these adversaries and continued to fight to success.

“The best experience was winning the elimination fight to get me onto The Ultimate Fighter season 18 cast. It opened up such major opportunities and allowed me to become better known by the public. People were recognizing me in Walmart,” she smiles.Cool Girl Roxanne Modafferi

Outside of the ring, Roxanne writes and teaches, even publishing a book called “Memoirs of a Happy Warrior” that has sold out in hard copies, but is still available in digital format on Amazon.

As she continues to muscle up without backing down, we here at Sock It to Me salute Roxanne Modafferi for being a very Cool Girl!

Check Roxanne out at  roxannemodafferi.net and you can find her on social media as well:

Instagram: roxyfighter

Twitter: @roxyfighter

Mary Joyce

Name: Mary Joyce
Age: 32
Location: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Mary Joyce is at the head of the class, not just as a special education teacher, but also as a yoga instructor in her home of Long Island, New York. Growing up, Mary surmounted injuries as well as stereotypes, practicing karate when she was 16, and hitting her yoga mat even after shoulder injuries,. She also refuse to quit on her snowboard even when her tailbone and her pride told her to stay away from the slopes and stay in the chalet.

She credits the endless love and support of her mom and dad for keeping her going, even when the stress of work, graduate school, and a grueling roster of physical activities, threatens to exhaust her. She also is quick to point out that her students are – and have always been – incredibly influential and inspiring.

“All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain,” she says.

All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain.

Between the deadlines and workload of school, both being at the chalkboard and buried in books as a student herself, Mary has to find a way to blow off some steam. While yoga is great for mellowing her mood, she cites snowboarding with being the biggest stress-reliever. Her arctic air affair began four years ago, when her friends managed to get her on a mountain. Unfortunately, she didn’t start carving turns with grace and ease. “My first experience wasn’t a positive one,” she says. “By the the second time I went I managed to break my tailbone which put me out for the season. I felt very discouraged because I didn’t pick up the sport as easily as others. For years after that my close friend harassed me on a weekly basis, but my fear and aggravation of learning something new and difficult held me back.”

Continue reading Mary Joyce