If you’re an owner of a stocky bodied, flat snouted, roll around in the mud animal, this is your month to celebrate. Fans of the edible marshland plant high in fiber that adds a crunch to salads will also have cause to jump for joy now. It’s March. The month that honors National Pig Day, ushers in National Celery Month, and observes the ever popular St. Patrick’s Day. Worthy as all of these events are, commemorating National Women’s History Month in March, is nearest and dearest to my heart.
First observed in 1978 in Santa Rosa, California educators wanted to highlight the vital role women had in American history. Organizers choose the week of March 8th to coincide with International Women’s Day. Two years later, President Jimmy Carter officially declared that week National Women’s Week and in 1987, Congress passed a resolution declaring March as National Women’s History Month.
As a teacher, I have always been interested in expanding my students’ knowledge of the world. Because their backgrounds differ it’s been important to expose them to as much diversity as possible. Often times when we’d talk about people in history, students could rattle off dozens of men who had an impact on us, like Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Kids could easily name male sports figures, inventors and musicians, too. However, when pressed to name women in history in any “category” the list would fall short. I might hear Sacagawea, Pocahontas, Rosa Parks and the last year I taught Michelle Obama was mentioned.
From my journal, February 1, 2012 Newbury Park, CA
“Helping out with the WIH during lunch for the next few weeks… students have chosen Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, Marie Curie and one I’m not as familiar with, Queen Rania…”
Five times I’ve had the privilege of being involved with the Women in History program in our local schools. What better way to teach children about women who have shaped history than to have students embody their roles. Through researching their contributions, writing short speeches, creating costumes complete with props, and giving their presentations at assemblies, students would bring these historical figures to life.
From my journal: March 29, 2012 Newbury Park, CA
“All did a great job…so proud of them…other students said they liked seeing their friends perform…sure they learned a few things, too…”
We celebrate people and events so we don’t forget them. By spotlighting women in history, we help both boys and girls understand that woman are just as capable of accomplishing things as men are. We teach them how these women have changed all of our lives for the better. And they learn, especially the girls, there is a whole world of possibilities out there, just waiting for them.
Although I am no longer teaching or a part of the WIH program, each year at this time, I still applaud the women who have made a positive difference in our history. Whether they be activists, educators, or entertainers, and whether they lived hundreds of years ago or are present day pioneers, I appreciate them for paving the way for me, and for generations to come.