As we begin the month of March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. In the field of education, many women have paved the way for advancements and access to learning around the world. Be inspired by just a few key education leaders:
Maria Montessori: Pioneered the concept of child-centered education. Using creative hands-on learning methods and encouraging self-directed activities, Montessori was able to form a unique instructional approach that provided successful results even in students that were considered “unteachable.” Maria Montessori believed that early child education should encompass all parts of growth, including social, cognitive, and emotional development.
Mary McLeod Bethune: Her parents were both former slaves. As a result, she had very little access to education as a child. Despite this, Bethune went on to become a teacher herself, eventually founding her own school in 1904. Initially starting with only six students, Bethune went on to become a champion of African-American women’s education, founding the Bethune-Cookman College (now university) to help women of color receive access to quality education. Mary McLeod Bethune believed that education was the key to equality, and we couldn’t agree more.
Malala Yousefzai: Her story of resilience and fighting for what is right is nothing short of incredible. Growing up in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai became an advocate for women’s rights and education at a young age. However, due to the Taliban rule of Pakistan, freedoms for women were severely limited, with access to education virtually nonexistent. Incredibly, Yousafzai survived after being shot in the head by a Taliban soldier at close range. After recovering, she went on to become an advocate of human’s rights and educational access for women. In 2014, at the age of seventeen, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her amazing work in bringing attention to these issues.
Anne Sullivan: Often recognized as Helen Keller’s lifelong teacher, Anne Sullivan changed the way people with disabilities are approached in education. Due to Sullivan’s diligence, Helen Keller was able to learn to read, write, and communicate despite being blind and deaf. In fact, Anne Sullivan had overcome her own obstacles as well – due to an eye disease, she was left blind as a child. Anne Sullivan’s incredible work with Helen Keller is a testament to the great things that people with disabilities can achieve.
Encourage your students to reflect on the women in education who have mentored, inspired or encouraged them in their school years! Use the recognition exercise to allow students to define and appreciate women educators.
Lead4Change is made possible because of the partnership of the Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning, led by Diane Barrett and the Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation, led by Ashley Novak Butler. Click on their names to be inspired by these women leaders.