San Francisco public school elementary science and tech classes are focusing on pioneering women, including astronaut Mae C. Jemison, pictured in 2018 at the National Geographic premiere of the documentary “One Strange Rock” in New York. (Shutterstock)

San Francisco public school elementary science and tech classes are focusing on pioneering women, including astronaut Mae C. Jemison, pictured in 2018 at the National Geographic premiere of the documentary “One Strange Rock” in New York. (Shutterstock)

Women’s History Month in spotlight in SFUSD programming


Around the world, millions of people celebrate Women’s History Month in March. Today I want to share some of the ways San Francisco public schools celebrate and uplift women, and gender diversity, during Women’s History Month and all throughout the year.

At Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 computer science and tech classes are learning about women in computer science and STEM. A group of kindergarten and fourth grade girls called Tech Queens meets after class to build community and talk about tech and perseverance. Each week all elementary school students learn about a woman who broke barriers to achieve her dreams. These women include NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and engineer Dr. Mae Jemison, who was the first African American woman to go to space.

Bal EmpowHER is a group of young women at Balboa High School who stand up for themselves and others by providing a safe space for females and their allies to learn, grow and excel in leadership, communication and self-empowerment. They promote and facilitate conversations about women’s health and rights in their school community.

An Ethnic Studies and People’s World History teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School is recognizing Black Women’s HERstory month through teaching a four-part series of lessons acknowledging the contributions of Black women. The series includes Black women and those who share multiple identities. One such woman is Naomi Campbell (who is of African, Jamaican and Chinese heritage), who has blazed trails in the fashion industry and in her charity work.

In addition to ensuring our students learn about and celebrate women, we also strive to have inclusive school communities. San Francisco Unified School District has Gender Inclusive Language guidance to support all staff to use language in a way that is free of gender bias. The guidance includes definitions and examples of inclusive language; recommendations for working with students regarding grammar and usage, and classroom culture; and resources for educators.

For additional resources to celebrate Women’s History Month, check out these videos from PBS and book recommendations and events from the San Francisco Public Library. SFUSD’s educational TV show for K-2 families “SF Loves Learning” is airing segments special for Women’s History Month. This TV show is fun and educational for children of all ages.

Finally, I want to take a moment to honor the women in my life, especially my mom, my wife, my teachers and my colleagues, who have all been part of making this world –– and my world – a better place.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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