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Women's History Month: How Strong Role Models at Dominion are Shaping the Next Generation of Women in Leadership

celebrating womens history month

March 29, 2024 -- Columbus City Schools is proud to celebrate Women's History Month by highlighting the remarkable work of Principal Dorothy Flanagan at Dominion Middle School. 

Committed to equity, Flanagan ensures every child can access high-quality, rigorous instruction in a safe, dynamic learning community.

“As a woman in leadership, it's imperative that I model for each young female student what it means to be strong, responsive, thoughtful and authentic," said Flanagan. “One of the things I enjoy most about my work is the ability to listen and engage with our young women. Understanding their thoughts, concerns, and dreams motivates me to be a more effective leader.”

Under Flanagan's leadership, Dominion Middle School has become a place where all students can access curricular and co-curricular opportunities that challenge their thinking and engage their interests. She believes every student deserves to attend a school where they feel safe to take risks and be authentic.

"I feel comfortable being who I am here," said Avianna Worthington, eighth grade student at Dominion. "The educators and adults have definitely made it feel like a safe space to be who I am."

At Dominion, a key priority is exemplifying strength, attentiveness, consideration, and genuineness for young female students, regardless of role. Eighth-grade teacher Andrea Manfresca enjoys listening to and engaging with young women, understanding their thoughts, concerns, and dreams.

This insight fuels Manfresca's engagement and dedication to her students. She is committed to elevating and linking young women with opportunities and peers, advancing their educational paths."Self-esteem, I believe, comes from education," Manfresca said. "When students start feeling good about themselves with education, everything else kind of falls in place."

The confidence, authenticity, and level of engagement with students leave a lasting impression on both young women and men alike. Allowing her to have a deeper connection with students, something that Manfresca prides herself on and continues to strive for. 

Former student Cassandra Draughon, now an eighth-grade teacher at Johnson Park Middle School, vividly remembers her time as a student under Manfresca and its enduring impact on her.

“[Manfresca] made it cool to be a woman in an era of male domination,” said Draughon. “A lot of us came from broken homes or didn’t have an adult to trust; you gave us someone to trust. From the age of five, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn't until I met you that I knew the kind of teacher I wanted to be.”  

It is clear that Flanagan and other strong women in the building are dedicated to creating a positive school culture and climate at Dominion Middle and beyond. Building strong relationships with students sets the tone for students to thrive academically and personally. 

By maintaining their commitment to empowering young women, educators like Flanagan, Manfresca, and now Draughon can continue to elevate the next generation of leaders like Worthington by inspiring every student regardless of gender.

“I was taught to advocate for those who couldn't advocate for themselves,” Flanagan said. “That's why I chose education as a career option. The ability to positively influence a life and create opportunities where the perception is that there are none has been at the center of my work.”

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic Engagement