SHINE is a nationally recognized, innovative, curriculum-based, after-school program for middle school girls. Utilizing kinesthetic learning, SHINE combines formal dance training with rigorous math instruction to improve girls’ math scores and spark their interest in STEM.

MATH+DANCE=SUCCESS covers national math standards from 6th-8th grade, while improving overall girls’ confidence and attitudes towards math through a positive feedback loop, resulting in higher test scores and participation in classes.

SHINE girls have seen 100% improvement in math scores and confidence as measured by pre/post tests and surveys across several programs in numerous states. SHINE has received positive feedback from national media including CNN, CBS, Fox, the Boston Globe—and most importantly from the girls, parents, and teachers. Short-term objectives of empowering 6th-8th grade female students with both the confidence and mathematics skills to embrace math leads into the long-term goal of creating a pipeline of next-generation leaders in STEM fields. SHINE is currently taught in Washington DC, Chicago, and Boston- BAKERSFIELD IS THE FIRST city in California and on the West Coast to offer SHINE via a partnership with KDA.

Supporting local youth in education pursuits
Harnessing self-esteem and confidence on stage and in the classroom
Inspiring young women to pursue STEM fields
Nurturing a love of mathematics
Empowering women across America

KDA is preparing for our 8th session of SHINE!  Check back soon for more information. 

"Now, more than ever, we believe our young girls need mentorship during distance learning and we welcome the opportunity to get Kern County girls up and dancing while they learn math!"
Andrea Hansen
KDA President

FALL 2021 | TBA

Each session of SHINE serves 25 girls and 5 mentors.  An online application is required for SHINE girls and mentors. SHINE National Branch Staff Members review applications and offer acceptance based upon applications.  Girls not able to join the current session of SHINE will be offered a place in a future SHINE session.


SHINE girls are 6th-8th grade girls interested in improving math scores, developing confidence, learning about STEM careers, and participating in a program that empowers women.


SHINE mentors are local high school or college women who have qualified based on their math background, tutoring experience, dance experience, attitude and enthusiasm, and the results of a background check. The mentor training involves a customized online certification system along with a half-day mentor training session.

Mentors receive:

  • Training in working with young girls and teaching math and dance
  • The opportunity to give back to their local communities and advocate for women in STEM
  • Hands-on experience in the service sector
  • Leadership opportunities at a young age
  • A space to enhance their own skills through teaching and channel their own creativity
  • Access to a national network of women in STEM
  • The possibility of pursuing multi-faceted SHINE for Girls work through our quickly growing national nonprofit during the summers
  • Recommendations and referrals for internships, colleges, and graduate schools

Every middle school teacher has had a girl in a math class say, “I can’t.” SHINE turns the “I can’t” around by creating an environment in which girls not only realize that they can, but that they want to. SHINE consistently improves girls’ math scores and sparks their interest in mathematics.

Utilizing kinesthetic learning, movement and action replaces more passive forms of learning, such as listening to a lecture. We have all forgotten facts once memorized in a classroom, but we seem to be able to remember dance moves we once learned. By connecting the different ways in which we learn, SHINE enables effective understanding and retention of information in addition to imbuing abstract mathematical concepts with a physical meaning.

For example, SHINE introduces algebra through choreography: girls can create a simple dance of three twirls followed by a jump and will write down 3x + y where x = twirl, y = jump. Through dancing, girls realize that 3(x+y) = 3x + y + 2y. Before they say “I can’t do algebra,” they already have. This begins the positive feedback loop of girls believing in themselves, and their confidence stems from knowing they have the ability to succeed.

SHINE’s proprietary curriculum has been honed over several years and has provided consistent reproducible results.

SHINE provides girls with the opportunity to become engaged in STEM and assume leadership. Women in high school and college lead the 8 week sessions and also benefit from the experience by engaging in a network of women in STEM.

The innovative and proprietary SHINE curriculum features 3 different levels and covers the following topics: 1) Arithmetic and Order of Operations 2) Fractions, Decimals & 3) Pre-algebra 4) Coordinate Geometry 5) Planar Geometry 6) Probability and Statistics 7) Advanced Word ProblemsA typical day in the SHINE for Girls program will include:

  • Snacks and Bonding – SHINE mentors check in with their girls every week. Mentors review any homework and challenge problems from the previous week.
  • Kinesthetic Learning Activities – Each week a new math topic is introduced through kinesthetic learning- based activities. These activities are designed to teach the concepts in a new way and excite the girls about the material.
  • Dance – Girls learn dance in a formal setting from an experienced dancer. They will learn a dancer’s warm up and stretching routine, practice technical dance exercises, and rehearse choreography that will be performed in the final recital. Attitude, confidence, teamwork, and dedication will be emphasized.
  • Small Group Tutoring – Students join their mentors to review customized math problems corresponding to their curriculum level and the weekly topic. Girls are encouraged to work together, support one another, and lead the group through problems.
  • Final Day of SHINE– Girls perform choreography in front of family, friends, teachers, complete with costumes, awards, and snacks. Parents and teachers will have the opportunity to speak with their child’s mentor about their child’s progress.  SHINE National Team provides detailed summaries of progress (weakest/ strongest subject, areas that are most/ least improved, general feedback) when requested from teachers or parents

SHINE is FREE to all participants and is made possible by generous donations from our community. You can help others to SHINE:

  • $100 affords snacks and water for one SHINE session
  • $175 affords one SHINE tuition
  • $250 affords one SHINE Curriculum
  • $875 affords five SHINE tuitions
  • $3,650 affords one SHINE sessions
  • $14,600 affords an entire year (four sessions) of SHINE 

Lynnette Zelezny was appointed to serve as the fifth president of California State University, Bakersfield, effective July 1, 2018, and is the first woman to serve in the role.

Dr. Zelezny’s appointment as president was historic because it was a tipping point. With her appointment, the California State University system, the largest public higher education system in the nation, has a majority of women presidents.

President Zelezny has devoted her entire professional life – first in her 30-year career at Fresno State and now at CSU Bakersfield — working to raise the educational level of students throughout California’s Central Valley and developing graduates who turn into leaders, decision makers and contributors to communities in the region.

President Zelezny came to CSU Bakersfield after serving for three decades at Fresno State. She served as the provost and vice president of academic affairs for Fresno State – the University’s chief academic officer – from 2014 until her appointment as President of CSU Bakersfield.

Dr. Zelezny has served as a visiting professor at the University of Stockholm in Sweden, an American Council of Education Fellow at Towson University in Maryland, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany.

She was a nominee for the U.S. Professor of the Year awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. An applied social psychologist, Dr. Zelezny has published research related to the environment, health, leadership and student success for underrepresented students.

A product of the CSU, Zelezny earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Humboldt State University, a Ph.D. in applied social psychology from Claremont Graduate University and an M.B.A. with distinction from the Craig School of Business at Fresno State. She has also earned professional certificates in management from Harvard University and in executive leadership from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

 Dawn James is the Americas Energy Lead for the Worldwide Energy Industry team at Microsoft. She is an executive solutions professional with a subject matter expertise in digital transformation, energy transition and E&P digital solutions. 

Dawn has over 23 years of industry experience, including work as a petroleum geoscientist and as a research geoscientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. Her expertise not only includes results-driven leadership, but she is skilled at articulating value at the convergence of industry and technology. Dawn’s responsibilities include Smart Energy thought leadership within Microsoft while aligning technical solutions with business outcomes.

Dawn holds a MSc in geoscience and a professional certification in big data and predictive analytics from MIT. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her daughters.

Alissa Carlson is the Chief Meteorologist at KGET-TV. 

Alissa hails from northwest Illinois, where she grew up on a farm. That sparked an interest in weather at an early age. She watched severe storms with her dad, who also loves weather.

After graduating as salutatorian in high school, Alissa went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree at Illinois State University followed by a Certificate of Broadcast Meteorology at Mississippi State University. While in college, Alissa applied for an overnight news anchor position at WQAD in Moline, Illinois. She became one of the youngest TV anchors in the country. She worked in her hometown television market, known as the Quad Cities, before moving on to jobs in Greenville, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida.  

Alissa is very involved in the community, taking an active role in numerous charity events as an emcee. She has helped raise money for organizations such as the American Heart Association, SPCA, Gleaners, Volunteer Center, Children’s Miracle Network, and the Bakersfield Homeless Center. 

Alissa’s dedication to Bakersfield earned her the nomination for Humanitarian of the Year in 2018 by the Beautiful Bakersfield Awards. 

Alissa has held the titles of Mrs. Bakersfield and Mrs. California. She is married to Attorney Neil Schwartz and they have one daughter and two dogs. 

Contact Alissa

Facebook: Alissa Carlson KGET
Twitter: @ACarlsonKGET
Instagram: @Schwartz.alissa

CNN “Can’t do math? Dance it out”

CBS Evening News “Dance Program Shows Girls and Math Can Add Up”

Boston Globe “In After-School Program, Girls Link Elegance of Dance and Math”

FOX 25 “New Program Uses Dancing to Get Children Excited About Math and Science”

Education Week “MIT Student’s After-School Program Uses Dance to Improve Girls’ Math Skills”

Edutopia “Kinesthetic Learning: Moving Toward a New Model for Education”

MIT Alumni – Slice of MIT “Girls SHINE Dancing Hip Hop Variables”

MIT Community Service Fund “SHINE for Girls”

MIT News Office “MIT Students Help Middle-School Girls SHINE in Dance and Math”

MIT Public Service Center “Math and Movement”

Kern County Family Magazine “Kern Dance Alliance First on West Coast to Present SHINE Program” 

The MoneyWise Guys Radio Show

KUZZ Radio “Prestigious Dance Program Gets Middle School Girls Into Math”

The Bakersfield Californian “Girls to Shine in Dance and Math Program”

NBC/KGET Channel 17 “New Program is Boosting Girls’ Confidence While Boosting Their Math Scores”

NBC/KGET Channel 17 “SHINE program incorporating math and dance for middle school girls.”

ABC/Channel 23 “Kern Dance Alliance Shine for Girls: Math + Dance = Success”


Jessica Reyes –

Jessica Reyes is a graduate of California State University of Bakersfield with a B.S. in Statistics. She is a Data Analyst for Adventist Health Bakersfield. Jessica’s passion for performing arts stems from her experiences in Colorguard. She has been both a member and coach of several Colorguard programs, in Bakersfield, CA, for a combined total of 16 years. She has been a SHINE Mentor since the Spring of 2016.  She is excited to share her love for math education and performing arts with students. 

"SHINE for Girls is the program I wished I could've been a part of as a young teen! I remember being that age and not knowing what I really liked or how to feel comfortable in my own skin at school. Now we've created this program perfectly made to help girls deal with those exact feelings! Through mentorship and tutoring we show girls what it looks like to be a woman in STEM, and how they can get there too! We also use dance as a way to enforce their math skills and help build the confidence to put themselves out there and SHINE both on stage and in the classroom."
Jessica Reyes
SHINE Lead Mentor

Angie Cruz currently teaches mathematics at Arvin High School in Arvin, California.  She attended California State University Bakersfield (CSUB) and graduated in Spring 2019 with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and a Minor in Child, Adolescent, and Family Studies (CAFS or Family Studies). She received her teaching credentials at CSUB in the Spring of 2020. She is currently working on her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction at CSUB.  She plans to also obtain her second Masters in Applied Mathematics and teach night classes at a college or university level while still teaching high school. 

Natalie Lovan is currently a third-year dance major in the BFA program at California State University, Long Beach. Natalie served as the Kern Dance Alliance Student Intern in 2017 and she was one of the original lead mentors alongside Jessica Reyes when SHINE first came to Bakersfield. She is super excited to return to the program as a mentor for our virtual session.

Riley Thompson is currently a Senior at Bakersfield High School where she actively participates in choir and theater and cheers for BHS. With 15 years of dance, theater, and vocal training tucked into her heart, Riley plans on obtaining a BA in Performing Arts and then pursuing a career on stage. Riley is a Junior Board Member with the Kern Dance Alliance and this is her second SHINE session as a mentor. 

Isabella Walker is a third year Graphic Communication major with a concentration in User Experience and User Interface at Cal Poly. In her spare time, she works as a Resident Advisor on campus and participates in competitive ballroom dancing. She first joined SHINE as a mentor when she was a Junior in high school and she is excited for the opportunity to be a part of it again with its new virtual format!

To date, Kern Dance Alliance has graduated a total of 148 SHINE Girls and Mentors.  As the only branch in California and on the West Coast, KDA is proud to offer the SHINE program free of charge to all participants thanks to the generous funding of sponsors and private donations including Chevron, Junior League of Bakersfield, The Women’s and Girls’ Fund of Kern County/Kern Community Foundation, Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust, Robert Grimm Family Foundation, Bakersfield Californian Foundation, Sean and Jennifer Maguire, and Garces Memorial High School. 

Fall served 23 girls and 13 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/posttest results:

Girls reported:

    • 100% loved working with their mentor
    • 84% agreed SHINE improved their dance skills
    • 79% of girls feel more confident both IN and OUT of math class
    • 68% of girls math skills were improved

Parents reported:

    • 90% of parents felt that SHINE had helped their girl improve in their math and confidence

Parents also felt their girls had gained life skills.  The following are those kills ranked the highest:

    1. Confidence
    2. Cooperation/Teamwork
    3. Dedication
    4. Encouraging their girls to try their best

Fall served 25 girls and 10 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/posttest results:

80% of girls feel more confident both IN and OUT of math class

100% of girls feel proud of what the accomplished during the program

Fall served 22 girls and 6 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/posttest results:

  • 95% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement their math skills.
  • 100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement in their confidence level.
  • 95% of SHINE parents have stated that their girls reported a heightened interest in STEM and dance.

Spring served 19 girls and 9 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/posttest results:

  • 93% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement their math skills.
  • 100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement in their confidence level.
  • 100% of SHINE parents have stated that their girls reported a heightened interest in STEM and dance.

Fall served 15 girls and 8 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/posttest results:

  • 100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement their math skills.
  • 100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement in their confidence level.
  • 93% of SHINE parents have stated that their girls reported a heightened interest in STEM and dance.

Spring served 12 girls and 6 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/posttest results:

  • 97% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement their math skills.
  • 100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement in their confidence level.
  • 93% of SHINE parents have stated that their girls reported a heightened interest in STEM and dance.
"This is my second year being a SHINE mentor and I love being a part of this wonderful organization. It is such a unique way of motivating young girls through math and dance. I had the opportunity to see the girls grow and feel confident in their math and social skills."
Angie Cruz
"Being a SHINE Mentor has been an extremely impactful and wonderful experience for me. Throughout the program I had the opportunity to connect with and really get to know the girls, and it was truly amazing to watch them grow more comfortable with themselves and others. For being someone who is pretty shy around people I do not know, SHINE helped me to face my fear of not knowing what to say in conversations, and to just relax and know it will all work out. I have always loved dancing and STEM, and this opportunity to try my hand at teaching both has given me an invaluable, more in-depth perspective into both. I have truly loved my time as a mentor for SHINE!"
Hailey Throll
"I personally loved my volunteer work with SHINE and would love to do it again if provided with the opportunity but I don't think I will be here in Bakersfield next year. I think one thing that could change would be to have mentors meet before or after each SHINE session to discuss what went well/what could be improved and maybe we could go over specific responsibilities (which mentors would be in which group?). There were some days where a mentor needed help because they were confused about how to implement an activity or discussion and they may have felt more confident with some discussion before the activity. Overall, I had a really amazing experience and I am excited to tell more people about this program."
Brianna Wright

SHINE CLASS- Fall 2019

SHINE CLASS- Fall 2018

SHINE CLASS- Fall 2017

SHINE CLASS- Spring 2017

SHINE CLASS- Fall 2016

SHINE CLASS- Spring 2016