In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with high school English teacher, Orianna Moccio, to discuss how this month is important and relevant in the Lift For Life Academy community.
Why is Women’s History Month important to you, personally?
Women’s History Month is important to me because it gives us the ability to celebrate, express gratitude, and reflect upon the achievements women have made throughout history. There is such importance in examining our history and taking this knowledge to shape the future for women everywhere. This month always reminds me of the large strides women have made to be able to accomplish the things we do now.
Why is Women’s History Month important at Lift For Life Academy?
Lift For Life Academy is a place where, as a staff, we try to truly go above and beyond the academics. As an educator, I have the responsibility of shaping the minds of my students, but I have an even bigger responsibility to make sure my students have confidence in themselves as young adults. The students at LFLA have vibrant personalities and are capable of achieving wonderful things throughout their lifetime. The best way to inspire our young women is to provide them with models of great women. By celebrating Women’s History Month, we have the opportunity to teach them to persevere like Susan B. Anthony, be brave like Amelia Earhart, and be as powerful as Eleanor Roosevelt.
How have women in education shaped your life path and outlook on life?
It was not until I attended college at Saint Louis University that I was truly inspired by woman in education. I had a professor by the name of Jennifer Buehler who taught my junior year Young Adult Literature class, and who later became my mentor. Professor Buehler did something for me that not many teachers have done in my life. She got me to read again. I say “again” because as I went through high school, reading became a chore instead of a hobby. Jennifer showed me, through her own ways of teaching, just how important and fun reading could be. Reading became an obsession, and I soon realized how lost I would’ve been without books. This was a woman who taught in urban education for years, who shared stories about crying in the bathroom after her days at work, who challenged herself through education, gained her doctorate degree, became president of the ALAN workshop, and most importantly inspired me to be the best teacher I could be. I look at her as the main reason I have the drive that I do in this profession. She is a powerhouse , and I know I will be like her one day.
In what ways do you strive to be a woman in education who leaves an impact on others?
I think that, contrary to the beliefs of the past, the field of education is not just a delicate and nurturing career path anymore. Women in any rank in education are taking charge, we are sticking up for our students, and we are making it our business to change the world through teaching. While yes, we are still delicate and nurturing, we now have the opportunity to do more and be taken seriously by the men in our field. I always strive to be the best version of myself and to continue learning. I do this so that my female students will look at me and reach for the same goals, and so my male students will be right behind them as support.
In what ways do you incorporate the ideals of women’s rights and equality into your classroom?
I have used women’s rights and equality quite a bit in my classroom this year. I taught the junior class about enlisting in the military as post high school option. After learning about each branch, we talked about the inequality that exists in the military between men and women. Students wrote letters to a military audience about the importance of having women’s rights in the military. We researched the abilities women had in this field in comparison to men, and found that women were just as capable of achievement and success in the military. I had many students inquire further about being a part of the Air Force and Army. I was elated to hear of their interest.
I also spent some time talking about sexism with the freshmen class this year. We engaged in rich, meaningful discussion about the treatment of women in each of our neighborhoods, families, jobs, and even in school. The students really appreciated talking about the real life issue of sexism.
What is one resounding message that you would like LFLA students to take away from this month?
Never let your gender get in the way of your accomplishment. Being a woman is a wonderful thing, achieve greatness with it.