Celebrating Women’s History Month Within and Beyond New York State

Holly Spinelli, March 2024

“Women’s History Month pays homage to the trailblazers before us, builds hope and inspiration to us, and offers an example of pride and excellence for younger generations.” – Kron Moore

March can often feel like winter’s longest stretch before the spring’s energizing warmth returns. It can be tough to find the motivation to incorporate new materials in our curriculum at this point in the year, but the exciting Women’s History Month programs and events scheduled across the country– and several right here in New York State– are there to support us with engaging materials and inspirational ideas to include in our classrooms. The New York Times continues to update its Teaching and Learning Women’s History resources page, and it’s definitely a worthwhile place to go for a range of ideas, materials, and activities for educators and students alike. On March 1st of this year, the University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo/UB) will host “From the Roots to the Sky: Women, Organizing and Social Justice,” its inaugural Women’s History Month symposium! There is much to learn and celebrate, especially for and with women. Both virtual and in-person events dedicated to centering women will fill public and private spaces this month.

Here is a list of a few that may interest you:

1) Celebrating Women’s History Month with the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation is an incredible organization that provides free access to poetry from a multitude of eras and genres. This month, the editors created a page of resources which includes poems, podcasts, and blog posts that explore women’s history and women’s rights.

2) The New York State Museum’s State-Wide Programming

Who’s up for a field trip? Events with titles like Women’s History Month: Women in Space and Specialty Tour: The Real Housewives of Aubrun sound exciting! The New York State Museum posted a schedule of events that will take place at various museums and historical societies across New York State. There are a variety of virtual and in-person events. Some do require registration prior to attending, so be sure to double-check the site before you attend. Scroll through to your region and see what piques your interest!

3) The New York Philharmonic’s Project 19 and Poets.org

Music is a fantastic pairing with reading and writing. In 2020, The New York Philharmonic began Project 19, a multi-season initiative to commission and premiere new works by 19 women to celebrate the 19th Amendment’s 100-year anniversary. In that same year, Poets.org dedicated each Saturday in March of its Poem-a-Day series to four poems written for the Project 19 initiative. Maybe you and your students or colleagues could create poetry playlists that center women’s compositions and voices?

4) New York City Public Schools and Public Spaces

It’s true, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. It’s no surprise that some of the powerhouse women honored this month have personal and professional ties to New York City. The NYC DOE Women’s History Month page lists a wealth of resources that are tailored to K-12 classrooms. These resources include reading lists, video and audio recordings, educator resources, lists of events, exhibitions, and places to visit. A “Hidden Voices” section is also included. This features links and information about people and groups— yes, this includes women, too— who have made significant scientific, social, and cultural contributions to our state, our country, and the world.

5) LGBTQIA+ Voices and Women’s History Month

Several of New York State’s educational institutions have curated reading lists and resources that include the important LGBTQIA+ people and voices to celebrate during Women’s History Month. In 2021, The New York Public Library curated a reading list of trans women authors and stories to read for (and beyond) Women’s History Month. The following year, CUNY Hostos Community College honored the LGBTQIA+ community as part of Women’s History Month by including a resources and readings list that students and community members can find on their school databases.

It’s clear that New York State has an abundance of resources and events to celebrate women! It may be tough to squeeze them all into one month of the year, but it’s empowering to see the variety of ways women are honored and celebrated for their brilliance, hard work, and immeasurable impacts on society. How do you plan to celebrate? We at NYSEC wish you a powerful and inspirational Women’s History Month!

Holly Spinelli is an advocate for equality through anti-racist, anti-bias, and anti-oppressive facilitation within and beyond the classroom. She began her full-time teaching career as an English educator, academic advisor, and students’ rights activist at City-As-School High School (M560) in New York City. In 2011, she received the Alice Trillin Teaching Award For Social Justice Work in New York Classrooms. Holly continues to cultivate community-inspired work as an English teacher at Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley, New York, and as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the English Department at SUNY Orange County Community College.

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