About the school
The Hewitt School is delighted to participate in the Teachers Righting History project. As an all-girls’ school founded in 1920, Hewitt will share its centennial anniversary with that of the right of women to vote. As we embark on this project to raise awareness of and celebrate the many accomplishments of American women, we share below some of the many ways in which Hewitt has already begun this work and is well poised to cultivate in our girls and young women the impetus to become activists for the greater representation of women at all levels of government and leadership in our society.
In Hewitt’s lower school (grades K-4), the program weaves the study of influential women throughout the curriculum. Some examples include a Wax Museum project, which culminates in student-led presentations of influential women the girls have researched; the study of important female writing mentor authors such as Patricia Polacco and Angela Johnson; a study of artist and quilting storyteller Faith Ringgold, whose tile designs adorn a 125th Street subway station; and a study of Emma Stebbins, designer of the Angel of the Waters statue on Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. Hewitt’s lower school girls also author their own “Cinderella” stories, yielding empowered heroes who determine their own destiny.
In the middle and upper school (grades 5-12), the curriculum emphasizes the roles of women across the disciplines. The math department combats the “stereotype threat” (Claude Steele, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do) that often accompanies girls in their study of STEM areas and challenges them to become confident and independent problem solvers. The science faculty note the oft-overlooked and yet critical roles played by female scientists in the narratives of Marie Curie and code-breakers at Bletchley Park. They also note the great accomplishments and fame accorded to others, such as Jane Goodall (whom students met at a rally). The girls are challenged to envision themselves as scientists of the future and to consider what they must study prior to and what they hope to accomplish in their career.
Teachers of the humanities disciplines consider human experience and texts through a womanist lens. Students of American history study the expanding opportunities for women in the country’s Progressive Era; produce their own posters advocating for women’s rights; create their own news blogs after reading about such luminary reporters as Martha Gelhorn and Margaret Bourke-White; and research female activists that include Shirley Chrisholm and Gloria Steinem, often comparing leadership for girls at Hewitt to that of women leaders in history. Students in an upper school English elective return to the role of gender in fairly tales as they research three versions of the Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood narratives and consider how gender roles play out in each of them. In an advanced visual arts course, each girl explores the query “What is a Girl?” as she encounters the work of Tina Barney, Annie Leibovitz, and Laurie Simmons and then creates her own interpretation of what it means to be a girl as informed by her own life, experiences, family, and friends. In art history, students read Linda Nochlin’s 1970 essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists (with notable exceptions) as they consider how women have begun to flourish as practitioners and innovators more often of late. As they explore the experience of women around the world, they interview women from the francophone world; read the poetry and prose of women writers throughout the Spanish-speaking world; consider how women’s narratives are depicted in art, literature, and society in the classical world; and, in the course AP Human Geography, Hewitt’s young women note the ongoing challenges women face in numerous societies, including our own, for equality amidst customs and cultures that marginalize or silence female voices.
All of the above represents some examples of the myriad of ways that Hewitt teachers and students are committed to the history, present, and future of women. In the coming academic year (2016-2017), we are proud to add to our repertoire of courses and profiles a Global Feminism course at the junior and senior level and a partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art that focuses on the theme of the Feminist Stance. The latter will provide students with an opportunity to design and curate their own show on this theme across a variety of media.
Hewitt is proud to support the Teachers Righting History movement, which aligns so naturally with our mission to “empower girls to discover their full intellectual and creative abilities, to pursue their passions and personal best, and to lead lives of consequence with character, compassion, and conviction.”