Honoring influential women in American education this Women’s History Month

Hand pointing to page reading a book

During the month of March, we celebrate Women’s History Month, where we recognize the contributions women have made in our culture, society, economy, policies, etc. As a women-owned organization, our team is proud to honor the achievements of women all over the world. And, the world of education is just one industry where women inspired and impacted; challenged the status quo; and went above and beyond for the betterment of ALL students. Below, we outline a few.

Margaret Bancroft

“Special children must have special schools with well-trained teachers who use materials adapted to those children’s capabilities.”

Special education programs didn’t always exist. It wasn’t until 1975 that the government made special education programs mandatory in schools under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA). Margaret Bancroft’s ideas laid the foundation for what would become the field of special education. At the age of 29, she opened the first private boarding school in New Jersey for children with disabilities. She believed that children with special needs should have specialized programs that could be adapted to their unique physical and mental needs.

Mary McLeod Bethune

“The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”

Mary McLeod Bethune, who was born to former slaves a decade after the Civil War, devoted her life to ensuring African Americans achieved the right to education and freedom from discrimination. Bethune became a teacher, and opened her own school in 1904. She served as an important advisor to President Roosevelt and went on to become a champion of Black women’s education, founding what is known today as the Bethune-Cookman University to help women of color receive access to quality education.

Dolly Parton

“The seeds of dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

We all know Dolly Parton for her world-renowned musical career and her hyper feminine (and, at the time, controversial) style; however, some may not know that Dolly is passionate about making reading accessible to ALL children. Dolly created The Imagination Library, which delivers age-appropriate books to children that foster a love of reading and learning; regard for diversity of people; and promotion of self-esteem and confidence.

Marie Clay

“If children are apparently unable to learn, we should assume that we have not as yet found the right way to teach them.”

More than three decades ago, Marie Clay introduced a method of reading acquisition, known as Reading Recovery, for first graders. The program offers students one-on-one tutoring sessions for a focused, short-term period to raise students from low-achieving readers to average readers. 

This is just a taste of the enormous group of influential women who have paved the way in the education industry. Our team at ALLMemphis is proud to work in tandem with extraordinary women advocates to ensure ALL students attain a level of literacy that allows them to reach their fullest potential. If you’d like to learn more about our impact, contact us today.