What We Do

The Spitfire Club seeks to create a world in which every girl feels empowered to be the strong and capable protagonist of her own story. We're an extracurricular book club for girls, structured around curriculum based on a carefully selected collection of children's books featuring strong, diverse, female protagonists. We believe that, by creating demand for and building community around diverse, girl-positive books, we can help girls nurture their love of reading and their love of self.

Spitfire partners with outside of school time programs (schools, recreation centers, libraries and similar groups) to offer Spitfire Clubs on a regular basis. The Spitfire Club is also piloting curriculum for "DIY" Spitfire Clubs that are available for public use. 

Why We Exist

When children love to read, they do it more often.  The practice of reading has a direct impact on literacy, reading comprehension, and critical thinking outcomes in students.  Spitfire’s curriculum uses grade appropriate, high quality books featuring female protagonists to grab the reader’s interest while also offering a perspective that is not often seen in children’s books:  a cast of characters as diverse as our society.  Culture shapes our identity in a very early and implicit way, and, to a child, the books they read are a first foray into that culture.  The challenge is that many of the books children have access to are about white boys (apologies to the white boys, but it's true). 

One study found that around 31% of all children’s books in print have a female central character [1].  Separate studies show that, since 2002, only 13% of children’s books in print are about people of color [2].  There are no known studies that measure representation of both gender and race/ethnicity.  However, given these statistics, it's clear that only a small percentage of books feature both diverse and female protagonists.  Which is pretty remarkable, given that, in the United States, people who do not identify as white comprise 38.7% of the population and women represent 51% [3]. 

 

Gender, racial, and ethnic identity isn't the only challenge:  Add to this the reality that female characters in children’s books often lack qualities that most parents would hope to instill in their girls – strong female relationships, independence, resilience in the face of adversity, resourcefulness – the list goes on.

 

The point is this:  children’s books are having an identity crisis.  The solution to this problem is access to more strong, diverse female representation in books.  Spitfire's curriculum offers girls of all backgrounds a more representative sample, giving participants the opportunity to experience characters that remind them of themselves and the population around them while exploring and nurturing their best selves. 

[1] McCabe, Fairchild, Grauerholz et al (2011) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0891243211398358

[2] Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin Madison (2017) http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp

[3] United States Census Bureau (2017) https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217

Who We Are

AMANDA HAZELWOOD

Executive Director

Favorite kidlit Spitfire Girl: Either Francie Nolan (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) or Grace (Grace for President)

The idea that sparked The Spitfire Club first occurred to Amanda in 2014, when she was working on a consulting project with members of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, but it wasn't until 2017 that The Spitfire Club was born.  Amanda launched the Spitfire Club in August 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia with cohorts of girls ranging in age from pre-K to fifth grade.  Amanda offers her experience of a decade working in nonprofit management, fundraising, and strategic planning, while also bringing to bear nine years’ experience in the classroom, including four years as a volunteer and AmeriCorps Member with Heads Up, a literacy nonprofit working in DC Public Schools, where she led extracurricular and summer literacy programming, and over five years teaching ESOL to members of the immigrant community.

KELLY GRIFFIN

Chair, Board of Directors

Favorite kidlit Spitfire Girl: Nancy Drew or Harriet Welsch (Harriet the Spy)

As Founding Chair of the Spitfire Club Board, Kelly offers her deep expertise in nonprofit management, strategic planning, and strategic implementation to build a sustainable and thriving organization.  Kelly is determined to make the world a better place through mission-driven work. In her professional capacity, she develops organizational strategy, leads creation of strategic plans, drives strategy execution, and guides change management processes.  She is currently leading the development of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  Previously, she led strategic planning and implementation, change management, and performance measurement at KaBOOM!, The Corporation for National and Community Service and AARP.  She holds a M.A. in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College.

DR. SAUNJI D. FYFFE

Member, Board of Directors

Saunji brings to Spitfire her deep expertise in monitoring and evaluation, nonprofit management, and research.  Saunji is a Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst at General Dynamics Information Technology.  Previously, Saunji worked as a researcher at The Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and she has taught classes on nonprofit leadership and management. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy from Virginia Tech and a B.A. in sociology from the University of Virginia. Saunji also serves as a Director of Computer CORE.

VIRGINIE CAREY, MBA

Member, Board of Directors

Virginie is Vice President of Finance and Operations at Washington Area Women's Foundation, where she leads the Finance and Operations team and strategy, integrating sound business practices to advance the Foundation's mission.  Merging these skills with her passion for literacy and girls' empowerment, Virginie brings her strong business acumen to The Spitfire Club, as well.  In addition to serving on the Board of the Spitfire Club, Virginie also serves as the Treasurer of Inner City Inner Child.  Virginie holds an MBA from the George Washington University School of Business. 

Our Board of Educators

KRISTI ALTIERI

Teacher, First Grade

LINDA BUSH

STEM Specialist

KARA CASHWELL

Teacher, Second Grade

CHRISSY DANBURY

Teacher, Fifth Grade

HEATHER DILATUSH

Teacher, Visual Arts

DANA FLEITMAN

Curriculum Specialist

ERIN KEMPEN

Writing Specialist

ELYSE LERMAN

Teacher, First Grade

CAROLINE SIMPSON

Evaluation Specialist

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for questions or more information, email info@thespitfireclub.org

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Most of the lovely photos on this website were taken by Jim Hazelwood. Learn more about his work at jameshazelwoodphotography.com