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Who Run the World? Girls.

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a movement which has celebrated women’s contributions and achievements all around the globe for over a century. As a nation, we’ve made progress towards eliminating traditional roles and expectations of women, but that has not come easily nor without obstacles and we’re still a long way from full gender equality.

Alpha was founded by a group of courageous mothers who wanted better opportunities for their children. They had a goal in mind and went after it with all their might. Their relentless effort, drive, and mission have shaped the Alpha we know today.

We reached out to some of our staff to share a few words on what Women’s Day means to them and in what ways they support gender equality both in and out of the classroom.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a time that we can celebrate the accomplishments and achievements that women have made. For me personally, it is a day that I can reflect on the many women who have influenced my life, such as my grandmother Shelba. She was a nurse for over 40 years, many of those years spent in the public health department. She is still called upon by her local Health Department to this day! She shared the qualities of love and kindness with everyone and was an advocate for women’s health initiatives, including prenatal care, immunization, state and local funding of healthcare and reproductive health. Seeing her take care of others had a huge impact on me and I sought a background in Health Promotion and Behavior as an undergraduate degree because of this influence. When I was five years old, she saved my new lab puppy by giving him CPR when he fell into the lake and drowned. She is an amazing woman!
-Jake Thompson, Instructional Coach at Alpha: Cornerstone Academy

International Women’s Day is both an opportunity for celebration and a necessary rallying point in the ongoing discussion about gender equality. In this fourth-wave feminism era of social media engagement, there has been a visible national conversation around many aspects of women’s rights and safety, but it’s also super clear that there’s a lot still to be done. My hope is that International Women’s Day in the U.S. is both a celebration of some of the few political gains made by women—particularly women of color and LGBTQ folk—in the past year, as well as a push to continue to work toward a more equitable future.
-Kealy Jaynes, 5th Grade Teacher at Alpha: Blanca Alvarado

For me, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on just how integral women’s contributions have been in every sphere, across the globe and throughout time. It’s a time to spotlight some of the lesser known female figures in history and celebrate the strength and resilience and of women and femme-identifying folks.
-Cami Jones, 8th Grade Teacher at Blanca Alvarado

International Women’s Day is a time for the world to come together to celebrate the growth of gender equality and recognize that there is still work that needs to be done.
-Liz Jaskolski, 7th Grade Teacher at Alpha: Jose Hernandez

How do you support gender equality, either inside or outside of your classroom?

I support gender equality by teaching my students about the roots and impacts of misogyny, racism and systemic forms of oppression, as well as highlighting the work that is being done to break those systems down. We frequently have discussions in my classrooms about the gender dynamics present in the literature we read and the history we study, then we talk about how we see similar structures at play in our communities and even sometimes in the classroom. By equipping my students to analyze and work against injustice of all kinds, I’m working to build a more equitable society.
-Cami Jones, 8th Grade ELA & History Teacher at Blanca Alvarado

Women’s Day is an opportunity for me to stop and reflect on the “poder of la mujer” that runs deep in my family. I am the daughter of a single mother. My mother is the daughter of a woman raised by her grandmother. My aunt was the first to emigrate to the United States and be the risk taker tasked with helping our entire family navigate a new world. Overall, I come from a family run by a matriarch even when the few men involved in our lives thought they were setting the agenda. Mujeres have nurtured my development and guided my values from day one. I am now tasked with continuing that responsibility and working with my generation to consistently recognize and value mujeres.
-Cynthia Nava, Principal at Blanca Alvarado

Though the art world is very male-dominated, I promote artists in my classroom who represent all genders, and also all nationalities. I think it’s important for my students to see the world through many perspectives, and to be exposed to artists they may not learn about in art history books. I also encourage my students to use art to advocate for a better world, themselves, and to VOTE.
-Rebecca Recco, Founding Art Teacher at Cindy Avitia High School

I support gender equality by creating awareness in my classroom about the inequality that exists. For example, my 7th graders and I are currently reading I Am Malala, a story about a young teenager who stood up for education for girls in Pakistan. With my class we engage in discussions around gender equality and recognize that inequality still exists in this world. In my classroom, I have created a space for all students to be treated as equals regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. I think that teachers play an incredibly powerful role in promoting gender equality because they are able to have conversations with students about the topic.
-Liz Jaskolski, 7th Grade Teacher at Alpha: Jose Hernandez

It is frustrating to me that we have the term “gender equality”. Having to conscientiously monitor and scan our culture for the inequalities that have been established for far too long is an atrocity to me. Knowing that structures have been put in place that break down the equal status of women in the workforce and society is wrong and we all must fight to create an even and equal playing field. It is a mindset that we all must approach society and advocate for equality within all of our systems. I have shared my voice within the communities that I live and work. I have encouraged others to stand up for equality and marched with groups in a united front to spread the word further.
-Jake Thompson, Instructional Coach at Alpha: Cornerstone Academy

As an educator, I have a unique window into the ways in which social constructions about gender are communicated, policed, and reinforced during these formative middle school years. Thus, I think it is especially important that my classroom be a safe place for students to bring their questions, talk through their disagreements, and develop a critical awareness of the world around them. Practically, this means addressing the subtle ways that students perpetuate gender stereotypes interpersonally, as well as exposing students to a wide range of historical and fictional stories that inspire conversations about intersectionality and the ways that inequality is both perpetuated and disrupted.
-Kealy Jaynes, 5th Grade Teacher at Alpha: Blanca Alvarado

International Women’s Day is more important this year than it has ever been before. We have so many phenomenal women who have used their voice to change how women are viewed in our society. It is inspiring and also encouraging to see how women have stood up for themselves to fight for equality. I have seen more women and men question stereotypes tied to gender and have seen people probe other’s thinking to really understand where they come from. As a female with a STEM background, it is exciting to see more and more incredible women join the STEM field. As a school leader, I am inspired every day by my students who advocate for themselves, their families, and for a better future. I am honored to work with and know so many courageous women who are dedicated to making a change and who know we can one day get there.

-Emma Karpowicz, Assistant Principal at Alpha: Cindy Avitia