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One-Of-A-Kind Pilot Brings Girls Scouts Into Dallas School

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The cutest sales force in the county is gearing up right now: Girl Scout cookie sales get underway today! And at Dallas' Solar Preparatory Academy, the annual ritual isn't just a community effort, Girl Scouts is now in house.

"Fifty percent of our girls currently get bused into our school," says Principal Nancy Bernardino, "so if we had an
after school program, that would automatically eliminate that 50 percent that don't have the resources to get picked up in the afternoon. So for us, it was really important than 100 percent of our girls were served and got a chance to participate."

Solar Preparatory is one of the DISD Choice campuses: an all girls school focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math).

Mia Manzano, a Solar Prep 2nd grade student, says she's never tried Girl Scout cookies or even heard of scouting until she began attending the school. Now, excitement over becoming a cookie entrepreneur has her quite literally jumping up and down. "I think I'm going to be able to sell 10 (boxes)," she insists with a laugh-- before erupting into all-out giggles when asked how many boxes she will eat.

A fellow student, Jiana Resendez hopes to sell 40 boxes. "It's my first year selling cookies," adds Resendez, "and I'm really excited!"

Bernardino says when school leaders began searching for a community partner, Girl Scouts just fit.

"This is a perfect marriage," says Jesse Mostipak, Girl Scouts. Mostipak is the project manager for the pilot that turns teachers into scout leaders, so the troops can meet at school.

"By bringing it into the school, we are meeting the girls where they are, " says Mostipak. "We are removing the obstacles. We know the girls are at school, we know the teachers can deliver a phenomenal curriculum, so we bring the program to them here where they can access it every other week."

And while for most adults, the cookies are a diet-busting treat soon into the new year, Girl Scout leaders say those little boxes are really building confidence and life skills.

"Here at Solar Prep, she's working with her school to accomplish those broader goals that help girls develop financial literacy skills, and goal setting and leadership," says Mostipak, " and even just the comfort in talking to strangers and navigating those communication challenges."

Both groups say the Girl Scout goals of building strong female leaders of "courage, confidence and character" mirrors campus goals.

"When you remove the boys, all of a sudden the girl next to me is a scientist, the girl next to me is an engineer," says Bernardino, "for girls, it's especially important for them to see themselves."

Right now, Solar Prep is the only school in the nation taking part in the pilot. But, scout leaders are encouraged and hope to one day see the scouts-in-school model expand across North Texas and the nation.

Applications for Solar Prep and all of the DISD Choice and Magnet campuses are being accepted through January 31.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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