What Does Women’s History Mean To Me?

Abra Gist
March 2, 2023

What Does Women’s History Mean to Proximity Learning? 

Proximity Learning employees and live virtual teachers have a deep passion for Women’s History Month – especially because they work in an industry where women of all different backgrounds are the backbone of the education and learning sector. We know that it’s always been important to teach and celebrate the achievements of women.

Many of our corporate employees have past experience in education and were so excited for the opportunity to share their views and experiences on Women’s History Month alongside our amazing online teachers. 

At a time when the Education Industry is advocating for fair wages and better working conditions, as well as a time when Women’s Rights are consistently on the political forefront, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go - for all women. 

Gratitude for Influential Women

Brantly Bright, Proximity Talent Acquisition Specialist

Brantly Bright used to work as a Reading Specialist in the Austin Independent School District, but made the transition into Talent Acquisition Specialist last year for Proximity Learning. Her effervescent attitude is infectious in the office, and she never misses a moment to share the positive impacts she’s seen in online learning technology with her potential live virtual teacher recruits. 

Bright said she would not have been able to be the woman that she is today without the influence and support of her mother. She said her mother taught her about social justice and advocacy at an early age, and it’s one of the reasons she continues to champion for Women’s Rights as well as other social justice issues near and dear to her heart. 

“My mother has always served as the most inspirational female figure in my life. She has built a life rooted in service, social justice, and empathy. She has raised all four of her children to live a life with perspective, humor, and an understanding of the world outside of our own. With a childhood rooted in CSPAN, it is no surprise that I attended my first social justice movement in a wagon at the ripe old age of infancy. She taught us all to be independent, empowered, and kind. To always question the norms and constructs around us. To consume media of substance and truth. To know ALL sides before forming an opinion. To breathe in to the count of six and out to the count of six. She is a force for social change as she has led countless local and state-level political movements and campaigns that have brought on so much change for our communities. She is mine and many others’ go-to resource for all things and the reason I am the woman I am today.” 

Brantly Bright and her mother.
Brantly Bright and her mother.

R. Samantha Schwenke, Proximity K-12 Talent Acquisition

When asked what Women’s History Month means to her, Samantha Schwenke said the month is about celebrating the leaps and bounds women have made to overcome oppression and break societal norms. 

Schwenke, who also used to teach in the Austin area, said it’s important to celebrate Women’s History Month and share its importance whether in the classroom or a corporate setting.

“One of the biggest, yet smallest acts, is to recognize the women around you: The ones that impact you and support you everyday, the ones you learn from and look up to, and the ones that have overcome societal standards.”

She spoke about the influence of music and her Orchestra teacher who helped guide her through her youth and academic career: 

“One of the most inspiring women that has impacted my life was my high school orchestra teacher. I made it through 3 years of playing cello not knowing how to read music. I could play music but I could not tell you what I was playing. When I got to high school, we started learning music theory (which obviously I did not do well with). I was so frustrated and was in tears that I could not grasp the concept, yet everyone around me could. She had me stay after school for a month and was the ONLY teacher that figured out my learning style and what information I was missing to grasp the concepts. She took the time to see me, hear me, and understand me. I stayed in orchestra all seven years of my K-12 education, despite also being a dedicated volleyball athlete. She showed me what it truly meant to be a teacher and how to support all students regardless of their priorities.”

Schwenke shared that in order to really learn about Women’s History, “one of the best things a student can do is to reach out to the elderly and listen to their stories.” 

She also promoted the importance of diversity when it comes to celebrating Women’s History Month: 

“Diversity is a HUGE aspect to the success of everyone and everything. We all have something to give to this world and finding that connection and sharing stories provides us with a new lens to see the world.” 

R. Samantha Schwenke and her Orchestra Teacher, who attended her wedding.
R. Samantha Schwenke and her Orchestra Teacher, who attended her wedding.

Progress and Moving Forward

As we contemplate the struggles we’ve overcome to get here and the work we still have to do for the future, we know more than ever that working together will not only improve conditions for women around the country and the world, but also for anyone else who has experienced adversity. The world needs equality for all women. 

To all the amazing, phenomenal, and powerful women out there - we see you, thank you, and honor you.

about the author
Abra Gist

Abra Gist is a writer and educator in Austin, Texas with over a decade of experience in the education sector. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in English at The University of Texas. She is currently an MFA Creative Writing Candidate at Texas State University. She loves exploring nature, practicing and teaching yoga, and sharing her industry knowledge for Proximity Learning.

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