[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Jacquie Bernbaum



Many girls are staggering under the pressure of jam-packed schedules, hours of homework, heightened expectations, demanding social lives and far too little sleep.  Maturing into a successful young woman is full of stressors and girls in this generation are pioneers in learning how to make it all work and still become successful both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Their anxiety level is only heightened by the unrealistic standard of what it means to “have it all." This class is designed to help you understand the new culture of girls today as well as strategies for helping them achieve their dreams.

This course is appropriate for K-12 teachers, administrators, support staff and parents.   




LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Define and describe nervous energy and the toll of hidden stress.
  2. Define and acknowledge the cultural pressures on girls. 
  3. Understand family dynamics and the perceived need to prove oneself. 
  4. Research vulnerabilities to stress and the behaviors that respond to it.
  5. Define and describe girls that are perfectionistic.  
  6. Define and describe girls that are easily distractible.
  7. Define, describe and acknowledge underlying belief systems that create insecurity.  
  8. Learn to recognize behaviors that are signals of stress.
  9. Learn the value of empathy when working with girls.
  10. Understand and learn how to create empowering relationships.
  11. Learn how to help girls build confidence in themselves.
  12. Multiple strategies to help identify stress.
  13. Have a list of resources available.   

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit.  The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit. 


Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Stressed-Out Girls:  Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure  from Amazon for approximately $8. 

  • Stressed-Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure
    ISBN# 0143037765
    by Cohen-Sandler, Roni

    Buy from Amazon


Text, • Course text: Stressed-Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure by Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D. • A complementary text of your choice. This can be purchased new or used from any source or borrowed from your district staff development or city library. Approximately $8 for the required course text from Amazon.



Assignment #1:

Introduce yourself with a 1-2 page background statement that includes the following:

  • Describe your current professional situation.
  • List the outcomes you hope for from taking this course.

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #1.

Assignment #2:

Read Chapter 1 in the course text. Write a 2-3 page response highlighting the following:

  • What did you feel was most noteworthy about the ideas presented?
  • Based upon the author’s revelations, give your own definition of the toll of hidden stress and indicate why it is important that we understand this as an underlying issue when working with girls.
  • Why is it important for parents to differentiate children’s interest and needs from their own?

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #2.

Assignment #3:

Read Chapter 2 in the course text.  Write a 2-3 page response highlighting the following: 

  • Explain how cultural pressures play into the world of girls.
  • Identify and give an example (from one of your female students if possible) of the achievement frenzy.  Give personal insight from your own experiences and speak to the underlying pressure to succeed upon this girl.  If you don’t have personal experience—pick an example from a girl that you know in a different setting (neighbor, sports team etc.) and any insights you may have regarding their struggle.
  • The author states that “Girls usually see opened doors not as possibilities, but as obligations … that is because they think that if they can do something, they should do it.”  What would you do to implement a change in this thinking?

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #3. 

Assignment #4:

Read Chapter 3 in the course text.  Write a 2-3 page response highlighting the following:

  • Note some of the pro and cons that girls experience when they come from a privileged background.
  • In response to family dynamics, explain what the authors mean when they refer to ‘competing with superstars’ and the dynamic that can play out between sisters. Include what the author means when she refers to the ‘right kind of pressure.’
  • Identify how learnings from this chapter will influence your future work with girls.  

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS#4. 

Assignment #5:

Read Chapter 4 in the course text.  Write a 2-3 page response highlighting the following:

  • The author talks about the need for continuity in education and the fact that girls do better when there is not a break between elementary and middle school.  Based on your experience and/or work with girls – how do you interpret those findings?  Do you feel that continuity is important when looking at long term success for girls? If so, why?  If not, why not?   
  • Also, include how you would help a girl/student be proactive in regards to the stress levels when continuity is lacking, change schools multiple times or lack in parental support.   

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #5.

Assignment #6:

Read Chapter 5 in the course text.  Write a 2-3 page response highlighting the following:

  • Define ‘square peg dilemmas’ in relation to girls who don’t fit the traditional model of success.
  • Explain how girls’ assumptions about unspoken expectations are potentially harmful.
  • Based on the author’s findings in Chapter 5, include which strategies you think would be beneficial to improving a girl’s self-esteem.  

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #6.

Assignment #7:

Read Chapter 6 in the course text.  Write a 2-3 page response highlighting the following:    

  • Define and discuss insecurity in girls and what the risks are of being insecure.
  • Explain how social disconnection can induce distress that affects everything from family relations to school work. 
  • Explain some of the ramifications of insecurity and how they can lead to self-doubt and inhibition.   
  • Highlight any new learnings that will help you in your future work with girls.  

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #7.  

Assignment #8:

Chapters 7 & 8 characterize both Perfectionistic (7) and Distracted Girls (8).  Both characteristics can impede development and mastery.  In a 2-3 page paper please create a case study (based on an actual student if possible) that falls into one of these categories.  

  • Be sure to include all the factors that contribute to the stress level of the case study student and identify two of the main components that you see as driving either the perfectionistic or distracted behavior.   
  • Talk about the toll that these behaviors can take on self-esteem and/or competency.      
  • Describe how you will show empathy when working with either a perfectionistic or distracted student or incorporate strategies to show how you will support them.         

Send to instructor: Subject line to read GIRLS #8.



In this section you will apply your learning to your professional situation.  This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students.  If you are not teaching in a classroom, please contact the instructor for course modifications.  If you are a classroom teacher and start or need to complete this course during the summer, please try to apply your ideas when possible with youth from your neighborhood, at a local public library or parks department facility,  (they will often be glad to sponsor community-based learning), or with students in another teacher’s summer classroom in session.

Assignment #9:

Using the knowledge you gained in the previous assignments, and after completing the readings in Chapters 9 & 10, write a 2-3 page paper, explaining any significant learnings that you will be able to use with girls in your classroom or professional setting.  If this doesn’t apply, please refer to a female from another setting, such as neighborhood, sports teams, community involvement etc.  Be sure to include:

  • Your assessment regarding the impact of stress on girls.
  • A summary of strategy (or strategies) you chose to implement and the reason for your choice.   

Send to instructor: Subject line to read GIRLS # 9. 

Assignment #10:

After completing the reading of your choice from the bibliography, describe in a 2-3 page paper what learnings are most meaningful to you.  Talk about what make these learnings valuable, and what you would share with other staff members in regards to working with girls.

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #10.

Assignment #11: (500 Level ONLY)

Option A)

Interview another educator about his/her perspective and thoughts on the topic ‘The Culture of Girls’ in today’s world. Name some of the cultural contributors that have been game changers in terms of the pressure and stress level on girls of today vs. those of a decade ago. To document completion of this assignment, include the following: 

  • The date of the conversation.
  • Identify the role of the person with whom you spoke (colleague, supervisor, friend, etc.)
  • State why you chose this particular person.
  • A 2-3 page summary highlighting key insights.

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #11-A.


Option B)

In Chapter 2 the course text states “Based on my research and clinical experience, I believe the most important thing educators can do is to develop strong relationships with each of their pupils. Among these, the Positive Coaching Alliance recommends that coaches adopt two goals—winning and life lessons—but that parents should focus only on the life lessons and spirit of the rules, how to make and learn from mistakes, and self-discipline. The purpose of this assignment is to interview a high school or college-age female student and discuss her experience with these issues.  Please organize your interview around two of the following:

  • How do you define yourself amongst the world of girls?
  • How big of an issue is insecurity in most girls?
  • What are the positive and negative aspects of daily pressure on girls?
  • What is the toll of perfectionism?   
  • What can parents do to support girls?
  • Other content that you deem appropriate based on the student you are interviewing

As evidence of assignment completion please submit a 2-3 page summary of your interview and reflection on the content that was covered based on your learning from this course.  

Send to instructor:  Subject line to read GIRLS #11-B.


Option C)

Another assignment of your own design with prior approval from the instructor.

Send to instructor:   Subject line to read GIRLS # 11-C. 


Assignment #12: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments.)

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when, and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?

Send to your instructor at their email address. Subject line to read  "(put course name here) Integration Paper"


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Jacquie Johansson graduated with a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Gonzaga University in 1990, and for the past 24 years, she has worked for Spokane Public Schools as an elementary school counselor. During her tenure, she has dealt extensively with students of trauma and poverty, as well as gifted students and those from high income backgrounds.  

Jacquie is the co-founder and vice-president of Continuing-Credits, Inc., which develops and facilitates dynamic workshops across the Pacific Northwest.  Since the start of the company 14 years ago, she, along with her teaching partner Lori Gibson, has created and taught a vast variety of courses; the emphasis is counseling skills aimed at working with both students and staff.

Jacquie’s overarching mission, both as a counselor and an educator, is to produce classes that support knowledge and develop strategies necessary to work successfully with the entire spectrum of students and parent community with an end goal of constructing a safe, welcoming, and optimal learning environment for everyone.  As test scores become increasingly important in the school setting, educators need skills to build relationships quickly and effectively with students and staff. 

Drawing upon her experience as an elementary and secondary school counselor as well as an instructor at the university level, Jacquie is able to connect to students, parents, and staff.  Her fresh, fun approach to practical problem-solving provides useful techniques that can be implemented immediately.  Jacquie keeps current on new research, which she synthesizes with time-proven information to help educators structure a high-achieving classroom, and in turn, produce high-achieving students.




Pipher, Mary.  Reviving Ophelia. New York.  Ballantine. (1994)

Pipher tackles the tough subject of why, more than ever before, American adolescent girls are prey to depression, eating disorders, addictions and suicide attempts.  Pipher, a clinical psychologist who has studied girls for 20+ years tackles, their issues and examines the obsessed, media-saturated “girl poisoning” cultures we live in.  The individual case studies, in this book, make for a fascinating read and also create greater awareness of how we treat and respond to girls, especially during the adolescent years.

Simmons, Rachel. Odd Girl Out. New York: Harcourt, Inc. (2002)

In this excellent book, Simmons examines the hidden culture of aggression in girls.  Gossip, notes, exclusion, nasty looks and how our culture still has unspoken rules for the sexes. Simmons shows that the secret world of girls’ aggression is just as harmful as that of boys, but is harder to recognize.  Girls are not encouraged to express their anger and so it goes underground.  This book also gives a voice to girls who struggle with everyday friendship and developmental issues.

Wiseman, Rosalind. Queen Bees & Wannabes. New York: Crown Publishers. (2002)

Wiseman has become internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work exploring the social world of girls. The Queen Bee, The Wanna Bee, The Sidekick, The Banker, The Floater etc. are a creative way to define the distinct roles that  define each member of a clique.  The work also addresses the hidden world of aggression that creates competition and angst with the clique. This research is easy to read, humorously presented, and very informative..

Wiseman, Rosalind. Queen Bee Moms & King Pin Dads. New York: Crown Publishers. (2006)

In addition to her internationally recognized work around the culture of girls, Wiseman is the cofounder of the Empower Program, a nonprofit organization that empowers youth to stop violence. This is book presents some ground breaking research and is filled with the kind of true stories that made Queen Bees & Wannabes, impossible to put down.  She explores some instances of outrageously bad parenting and gives examples of what to do when parents are overly involved in their children’s lives.