Women’s History Month at Princeton Day School

Lower School

For this year’s Lower School participation in Read Across America Day, LS Language Arts chair Katie Jamieson ’96 encouraged faculty to create opportunities to explore a new selection of women authors featured in the Lower School library. Among the authors currently on display in the library are Carmen Agra Deedy, Kate Messner and Christina Soontornvat – all scheduled to visit the School in April as Imagine the Possibilities guest artists – as well as Grace Lin, Eloise Greenfield and Vera B. Williams.

Jamieson says, “A focus for Lower School teachers has been to intentionally introduce students to a variety of authors. Seeing an author's photograph, learning how to pronounce their name, or watching videos of authors reading their own books is a powerful way to help children make connections to authors as real-life people, to recognize some authors as different from themselves, and to recognize some authors as familiar.”

When Read Across America Day arrived on March 2nd, the Lower School classrooms were filled with virtual and in-person visitors who read stories from a diverse group of women authors. In Pre-K, a fellow PDS student, fifth-grader Joshua Brown ’29 recorded himself reading Cool Cuts by Michel Renee Roe. In a Third Grade classroom, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tony McKinley read My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz by Monica Brown, exploring musical genres and Spanish terms with students in an engaging and interactive session. Other guest readers ranged from alumni to friends along with their newborns and a therapy dog! 

Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Tony McKinley, reading to third graders

Jamieson was thrilled with the diverse authors celebrated across the Lower School: “Efforts like these support us in our goal of developing students who read and write with a critical and caring eye by asking: Who wrote this? Whose point of view is missing? Does this feel familiar or am I learning something new? What is my story and how will I tell it? How can I teach others about something new I have learned?”

Middle School

In our 8th Grade history classrooms, Victor Cirilo, Middle School History teacher, implemented a new project this year to culminate the Women’s Rights Movement lesson and usher in Women’s History Month in March. Students hosted learning stations throughout the Middle School boulevard and invited fellow middle schoolers to visit and get to know famous women throughout history. 

Cirilo explains, “Teaching the reality and scope of women's experiences, roles and perspectives throughout history provides us an opportunity to examine the lived experiences of everyday and remarkable women. It gives us an opportunity to explore how women persisted in striving to achieve social justice, fairness and equity despite having been excluded and marginalized.” 

Eighth graders holding images of famous women

The women’s history Boulevard sessions were yet another example of the project-based learning approach for which the Middle School is known and a huge success for the 8th grade students involved and the 5th-8th graders who interacted with it. Notably, the project encouraged autonomy through student choice of their own topics and resources. Cirilo notes, “This project was new this year, and we are excited to continue refining it based on student feedback, which gives them the opportunity for a further voice and choice in how they learn.” 

Enjoy these photos of the Women’s Rights Movement project!

Upper School

Nicole Auerbach virtually speaking with students 

Karen Latham, Upper School English Teacher and English Department Chair, is a tireless advocate of women’s literature and literacy. Recently, in an event with the PDS National Organization for Women (NOW) club, she invited sports journalist Nicole Auerbach ’07 to visit with students virtually and talk about her career in broadcast journalism. Additionally, Ms. Auerbach is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni award and will return to the Great Road in May for award recognition celebrations during alumni weekend.

Ms. Auerbach is a senior writer for The Athletic, where she was named the 2020 National Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association, becoming the youngest national winner of the award. In a recent interview, she reflected on her early days in journalism with her student newspaper at the University of Michigan, stating, “For somebody who loves sports and wasn’t playing sports in college, it was great to be around the teams and the coaches. That first year I covered gymnastics, soccer and football and it was so nice to kind of form your own team with the staff of the student newspaper.”

Ms. Auerbach’s visit underscored the importance of doing your homework as well as building positive relationships with your interview subjects, especially in the male-dominated profession of sports writing. She says, “You have to prove you know what you’re talking about.... you not only have to know your subject, you have to be able to connect quickly [with your colleagues and those you interview.] When those initial experiences are positive, it often leads to successful longer-term working relationships.”

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