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Women’s History Month

Croton-Harmon Schools Women's History Month

Croton-Harmon Schools Mark Women’s History Month

Third graders at Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School recently found out that girls in some parts of the world have to fight to go to school. Learning about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, opened their eyes to injustices surrounding education.

“Girls couldn't go to school where Malala lived and she thought they should,” Allie said. “It didn't feel fair.” Said her classmate Scarlett: "I feel happy to go to school because I can learn and I'm grateful."

Teacher Joe Pascarelli taught the lesson involving Malala to mark Women’s History Month, which occurs in the U.S. every March. Started under President Jimmy Carter as a weeklong national celebration, Women’s History Month is now a federally designated month designed to highlight women’s contributions in a variety of fields. In Pascarelli’s class, pupils heard a book about Malala, completed a skill-based English and Language Arts activity and collaborated on a mural.

Across Croton Harmon schools, women's accomplishments are an integral part of the K-12 curricula and regularly discussed. In all three schools, however, there were special lessons and activities tied to Women’s History Month.

In the elementary school, all music classes studied influential women musicians. Other lessons included second graders studying Helen Keller through a child-friendly biography. In Jenna Jacobi's class, co-teacher Marissa Burke, has been teaching students simple sign language so they can understand how Helen Keller communicated.

“Students are loving it,” Ms. Burke said.

At Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School, the Student Council has been making announcements during homeroom about Women’s History Month and women who have made extraordinary contributions.

Principal Michael Plotkin said the students have heard about women from different backgrounds involved in a range of fields, including Mother Teresa, Amelia Earhart and Frida Kahlo. They have learned about Edith Clarke, the nation’s first female professor of electrical engineering, retired Canadian ice hockey goaltender Manon Rhéaume and Mae Carol Jemison, the former NASA astronaut who was the first black woman to travel into space.

Posters put up around the school this month also featured accomplished women, as well as women dressed in the garb of fields ranging from medicine to construction work to science. Moreover, the school has been playing videos in the lobby featuring prominent women in history so that students lounging there during lunch can hear about them.

Teaching girls and boys about women who have accomplished milestones, often in the face of opposition, is important, Plotkin said.

“Their story is the human story,” he said, “it’s a story of women overcoming great odds and great challenges and showing incredible commitment to the causes and fields they embraced. It’s critical for our students to know that our heroes are not just one type of person.”

At Croton-Harmon High School, Principal Laura Dubak said students in the Women’s Empowerment Club spearheaded the celebration of Women’s History Month. Club members suggested that faculty use International Women’s Day on March 8 to highlight women who made significant contributions in their fields. Some students also wore clothes that day in purple, green, and white – colors meant to signify justice, dignity and other ideals.

Throughout the month, the club also made announcements, conducted lunch activities to highlight women and shared a short podcast called “Womanica” that highlighted a different woman daily.   

Earlier this month, the club took an after-school field trip to Binnacle Books in Beacon; the students wanted to explore how to get involved with the Prison Book Project, which is aimed at reducing recidivism.  The students learned about donating books for use in women’s prisons, and the Beacon store’s participation in the project.