Happy Women’s History Month!
Here at Move This World, we’re lucky enough to be led by women and work with many female leaders in education. In honor of the 2023 Women’s History Month theme, ‘Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories’, we took some time to interview five of our extraordinary female partners.
Below, we share their thoughts on leadership, uplifting women, and advice for those who are trying to make a difference in their communities. We hope their answers, and the questions themselves, encourage you to think about the women in your own life and their stories:
What inspiring woman would you invite to a dinner party? Why?
With so many female role models to choose from, we wanted to know who our interviewees would want to sit down and talk with at a dinner party.
Sarah Gaw, Network Director of Student Support at Distinctive Schools, said she would invite researcher and storyteller Brené Brown. Gaw pointed out that Brené Brown is, “honest and speaks her truth, she is vulnerable and leads with empathy. Brené Brown has knowledge and skills that help her understand people, their motives and most importantly, their struggles”.
Emilee Strubeck, 3rd-6th Grade ESOL Teacher at Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School, chose the supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). When writing about why she chose RBG, Strubeck wrote, “Many of the rights and freedoms that women, immigrants, and African Americans have today are a result of the impenetrable legal barriers that RBG just absolutely smashed!” Strubeck also described RBG as ‘one of the most fearless women in history’ and ‘a true trailblazer’.
What makes a great leader?
We see each of these five women as leaders in their communities, so we wanted to hear from them on what types of leadership qualities they try to lead with.
Emily Sutherland, Director of Social and Emotional Learning and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support at Salt Lake City School District wrote about several things that make a good leader, “I aspire to lead with humor and empathy, to make sure expectations are clear and collectively built, and to give time and support for those expectations to be reached”. She also stressed the importance of collaboration, emphasizing that we’re smarter together than we are alone.
Sonia Matthew, Assistant Principal at General Smallwood Middle School, grew up inspired by qualities like selflessness and hardwork that she saw in her father. She wrote that “great leadership is the desire to serve others”.
What advice would you give to young women who are trying to lead in their communities?
Our interviewees have lots of knowledge to offer. We wanted to hear about the advice they’d give to young women who are also trying to lead in their own way.
Sonia Matthew emphasized that there is always an opportunity to serve in your community, “Start now, start small and really know your ‘why’. Even just by touching one person by helping with something.” Matthew also acknowledged that the feeling you will get from serving your community is ‘unmeasurable’, and will motivate you to do more.
Meca Anderson, Counselor at Lancaster STEM High School , wrote that she would want young women, “to recognize what is needed in their own communities so that they can reshape the system. To use their voice, their time and talent for good. Anderson also praised the importance of mentorship and having the right people in your circles.
What are your favorite words of wisdom? Why?
We wanted to learn from our interviewees about words that they take with them day to day.
Emily Sutherland wrote that she finds many different phrases depending on her situation, “Right now, the words of wisdom that are meaningful to me in my job are: 1. What gets measured gets done and 2. I don’t care what you think; I only care what you do”.
Sarah Gaw wrote the phrase, “‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’, I feel that we all have an obligation to do what we can to make the world a better place, and so if we work to be the change that we want to see, we can inspire others to do the same”.
How can we lift up other women?
A huge part of WHM is amplifying female voices. We wanted to hear from our interviewees on how we can continue to lift up other women all year long:
Sonia Matthew wrote about women watching and listening to other women, “Other women are always watching us, so we must be careful of what we say and how we say it. Our kind words and acts of kindness are just the seeds that may be needed to lift up and edify other women.”
Emilee Strubeck wrote that in order to lift others up we must first uplift ourselves, “You can only love and support others as much as you love and support yourself.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
In addition to the advice they would give other young women, we wanted to know what our interviewees would tell their younger self:
Sarah Gaw would tell herself, “Keep going! Even when it seems hard and it would be easier to quit, don’t. Keep moving and you will benefit from the fruits of your labor”.
Meca Anderson wrote that she would tell herself that, “…life is so full of opportunity and you should seize every moment.” She also mentioned that she would remind herself not to compare herself to other people.
How do you celebrate Women’s History Month?
There’s an abundance of ways to celebrate and honor WHM. Let’s hear from our interviewees on what they’re doing:
Emilee Strubeck wrote that she features books in her classroom that highlight influential women from history. Some of the books she is currently featuring include She Persisted and She Persisted (Around the World) by Chelsea Clinton; I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy; and Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Winifred Conkling.
Both Emily Sutherland and Sonia Matthew wrote they take extra time to think about all the women who came before them. Matthew also wrote, “Our practice of honoring the stellar women that went before us is setting an example for those young women in front of us today.”
What have you learned from this article and from the women in your own life? We’d love to hear from you! Send your lessons with us on Twitter @Move_ThisWorld.
Check out our other WHM resources below!: