Noblesville elementary school teacher Melissa Jones is inspiring girls to live their best life through a club she started at school that has since grown into a district-wide K-6 program more than 150 girls strong and is still growing.
Jones, through the Girls Positivity Club, coaches girls to think positive, empower themselves, be confident, manage emotions and learn to connect with other girls in an empowering environment.
The fifth-grade teacher at Noble Crossing Elementary started the club two years ago when she was teaching fourth grade at North Elementary where, before that, she was co-teaching fifth grade with Dave Kimmel.
She created the Girls Positivity Club after seeing the need in her classrooms.
Through the club, Jones works directly with elementary and middle-school girls and their families by teaching lessons in confidence, positive daily habits and how to have positive relationships.
“This group and these skills would have been a game-changer for me,” said Jones, who grew up in Indianapolis and was happy and confident until age 8. But when her family moved to a new part of the city, her confidence and feeling of belonging didn’t move with her to the new school and neighborhood.
“Becoming a teacher was a way to motivate and impact kids,” said Jones, an Indiana University and Indiana Wesleyan University graduate and educator of 22 years, the past eight of those years in Noblesville.
Jones started this club during her own transformation in personal growth. Her dad was going through cancer treatment, and she had gone through a two-year transformation in weight loss thanks to an online group with a mentor who focused on her struggles with low self-esteem while losing weight. Seeing her own growth and confidence, Jones came up with an idea to start a club that would make a difference in girls’ lives, to teach girls to empower themselves.
She opened the club up to girls in her fourth-grade class by starting a lunch and recess group where she taught them how to do easy strategies to build self-esteem and boost confidence.
“I designed games, crafts, journal prompts, movement, affirmations and any activity the girls were excited by, and they loved it,” said Jones, who looped with the same class into fifth grade and expanded to invite any girl in fifth grade to join the club at lunchtime.
Twice a week, 12 to 25 girls consistently showed up at the meetings. Seeing the success, Jones approached the school principal to get approval to make the group an after-school club to reach girls as young as kindergarten. Her request was approved by Noblesville Schools’ Academic Extracurricular Project (AEP) allowance, so Jones coached 25 girls after school at North Elementary. In 2019, the club expanded to Noblesville’s White River Elementary and coached 28 girls, K-5, there. She was reaching more than 50 girls each week, including her lunch groups.
At club meetings, the girls share and speak to their experience voluntarily, never forced, Jones said. Subjects include confidence, avoiding comparison, fear, belonging, positive mindset and thinking, self-care, courage in social situations, kindness, managing stress and anxiety, and dreaming and creating a vision.
“The girls are very open and want to talk about these topics, and I think hearing what other peers are experiencing helps them connect,” Jones said.
She uses the acronym POWER:
-Pick a strategy to self-regulate your feeling, for using practical daily strategies, using music, friend talks, drawing or coloring art, journaling and more.
-Own the strategy at the moment.
-Wind yourself down with calming exercises.
-Easy self-care steps for care of mind and body.
-Reflect on your needs.
Before the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic, Girls Positivity Club met in person after school at the two elementaries and also expanded to the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville with meetings once a week. When the pandemic hit in March, Jones moved the in-person club meetings to virtual online meetings with Zoom video conferences. This school year, she promotes her club to all girls, K-Grade 6, in Noblesville Schools’ newsletter and offers a 12-week program with a course and a six-week program with a mini-course. Jones is also venturing out to reach other schools in the area, in Westfield, Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis and beyond.
During the pandemic, girls in the Positivity Club have expressed missing their friends due to changes in school schedule. “A lot of them don’t see their friends because they are either virtual or don’t get to interact with all of the peers in their grade level,” Jones said. Classrooms are only going to recess with their own cohort or in middle school, they are divided by the last name into houses, so a lot of them are separated from their usual friends. “The club allows the girls to join with their friends, and I see them light up when they see each other,” Jones said. “It is a way to mend that feeling and connects girls around a common and positive goal. Coming together in an empowering environment.”
Girls in the club want to learn how to manage anxiety and stress, and Jones teaches them easy strategies through art, movement, going into nature, breathing techniques, tapping movements, positive affirmation and grounding techniques. Girls also share their own techniques to calm their minds from the “what ifs” that they think about, she said.
Another topic is friendship. The girls want to learn how to stay connected, to communicate with friends, to surround themselves with positive people and to set boundaries.
Jones shares examples from her own life, then one girl shares, then another, and another. “Those who are more shy listen,” she said. “I also ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions and ‘thumbs up’ to raise your hand if you have ever felt this way.”
Jones invites parents to sign up their daughters, grades K-6, for one of her six-week clubs, which they can join at any time. She is also developing a digital course and will release a Podcast soon. She has a lot of options and resources for families.
Jones said, “I’m always looking for new ways to help girls and their families.”

Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.