March is Women’s History month, and in the weeks leading up to Spring Break, the school took time in and outside of class to reflect on the contributions and challenges faced by women. In the Daily Bulletin, administrators included facts and quotes about women, from their increased participation in graduate studies to the wage gap.
Sixth graders in Ms. Moten and Ms. Reed’s classes are reading the historical fiction book Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed about a Pakistani girl whose dreams of becoming a teacher are suppressed when she is forced to stay home from school as her mother struggles with postpartum depression. Later she has to deal with the challenge of indentured servitude in the home of a member of the ruling elite. Amal, who is one of the few literate people in her village, overcomes these challenges through wit and wisdom. Some sixth graders are also reading I Am Malala to complement this text. Students have studied the life of this Nobel Laureate and women’s education advocate and have also learned about the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto.
In seventh grade Ancient Civilization, with Mr. Wills, students are learning about female inventors, business leaders, politicians, explorers, and engineers. They have read about the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women suffrage and Title IX, which prohibits against sex-based discrimination in education. Students also learned about Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, who expanded her country’s trade routes throughout the Northern and Eastern regions. Students read about Tabitha Babbitt who, in 1812, invented the circular saw, Nancy Johnson, who invented the ice cream maker in 1824, and Ada Lovelace, who invented the first computing algorithm in 1843. Students have also learned about modern women entrepreneurs, film makers, and journalists.
In eighth grade, in Ms. Haywood and Ms. Breitman’s English classes, students are finishing up a memoir unit, examining lives of many luminaries including soccer star Megan Rapinoe and supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor. They are analyzing how the authors reflected on the choices they made and how they handled setbacks and challenges.
In the upper school, Mr. Day’s AP Language and Compositions students watched, read, and discussed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, and also had a conversation about transgender identities in response to some comments the author made in an interview a few years ago. The book deals with the experiences of the Nigerian author and her studies about economic power and gender.
Meanwhile, in Ms. Hamd’s World History II class, students are wrapping up a unit on the Black Panther Party and are focusing on a different key female Panther each day. Students learned about Elaine Brown, who was the Chairwoman of the party from 1974-1977 and who also served as the Minister of Information for the Party. Students watched the documentary “Vanguard of the Revolution,” about the Black Panthers.
And, last night our most recent guest in our Distinguished Speaker series was Stacey Samuel, one of the few African American women in a management position in the news media. See Speakers page for the recording.
The rich tapestry of readings in the various classes this year help students gain access to unique and diverse perspectives and experiences of women around the world. As we close this month, I hope you can reflect with your children over Spring Break about some of the inspiring women they have read about this year.
Head of School