JOINS GIRLS INC. After graduating from Hanover College, Columbus native Carly Pruitt landed the job of program director at Girls Inc. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
JOINS GIRLS INC. After graduating from Hanover College, Columbus native Carly Pruitt landed the job of program director at Girls Inc. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Girls Inc. saw several changes before the girls returned in August, including new construction, volunteers and participants - plus a new program director.

Girls Inc. hired Carly Pruitt as program director after former program director Delanee Fox moved from the area with her family. Pruitt took over coordination of the four classes available to girls after school, as well as tutoring sessions, field trips, special events and other programs.

"It is a lot of planning and a lot of thinking ahead," she said of the job.

A Columbus native, Pruitt had a few years of experience after serving as the park site coordinator with Columbus Parks and Recreation before accepting the position at Girls Inc. She worked with boys and girls of all ages in the Columbus program during college, which is a bit of a switch to working with only girls at Girls Inc.

"I did have a pretty good idea of what I would be doing (coming into the job)," she said. "It wasn't a big switch."

Pruitt graduated from Hanover College in May with a degree in health and movement studies and a secondary education teaching license. While earning her teaching license, she student-taught at several local schools, including Anderson, Deputy, Dupont and Rykers' Ridge elementary schools and Madison Consolidated High School - and recognized several of the girls at Girls Inc. from her days in the schools, Pruitt said.

While she considered a career in schools after graduation, the program director's position at Girls Inc. felt like the right fit for her, she said. And Pruitt was able to job-shadow Fox before the former program director left in July.

"They've all been really nice and welcoming," Pruitt said of her co-workers and the volunteers.

Pruitt made the transition to her new job during a break in programming at Girls Inc. near the end of July, which also helped, she said. The break allowed Pruitt to settle into her office and become familiar with the organization and planning before the girls came back for the fall session.

"Your first day is always your first day, but I felt prepared," she said.

The new program director continues to use several of the programs and classes that had been offered in previous years, but Pruitt has added a few new twists of her own to the programs this year.

Construction work at the Girls Inc. building required Pruitt to use a little creativity for the annual foods and cooking classes this year. The Girls Inc. kitchen wasn't fully functional to use for classes at the time, but Pruitt came up with an "edible art class" where girls built structures and other items with pretzels, peanut butter and marshmallows while learning about food choices. Girls also "tie-dyed" bread and other food items with food coloring.

"I think they really enjoyed that," she said.

Pruitt hopes to continue other programs that proved a success with girls, such as the Girls Night Out event held each month. The event features a field trip activity, such as a pottery event at All Ways Pottery, or learning about horses at Blackstone Farm.

"We try to get them as involved as possible," Pruitt said of the after-school programs.

Organization and early planning for the classes and events at Girls Inc. is key, Pruitt said, and she had already planned the complete fall session by early August instead of just planning activities week by week. All of the fall session's materials are already prepared and waiting in the classroom closet while she begins preparations on other upcoming projects, like the annual Girls Inc. Christmas Party in December.

"I have a lot of Post-its," she said. "I have my calendar. I'm good to go."