By Isabel Funk and Ellie Gottesman
“She’s a strong women, she taught me that it was okay to make mistakes,” said Kate Hamilton about Spanish teacher Kyla Trujillo. “She makes sure that all of the students are included,” said sophomore Norah Evans about art teacher Chantel Torrey. Every female student at MIHS has something to say about the female teachers who have impacted their lives.
“It matters to me to have women role models in the classroom because I can see people who are like myself,” Evans said.
Women role models teach teenage girls how to face adversity issues in the classroom, in the workplace and beyond.
“I try to support my female students and encourage them to speak out against things that they hear. I try to make my classroom a safe space where they feel that their voices are heard,” Torrey said.
Having female teachers in the classroom who have experienced adversity in their own lives fosters environments where female students can flourish.
“I had a really strong female role model in my art class and the best part was that she treated us all equally. I didn’t receive the same kind of treatment in my economics classes or my government classes,” Torrey said. Torrey draws on her experiences as a student to inform her actions as a teacher today.
“I feel that there is a double standard against women,” said junior Tara Manhas. “Women are often seen as too ambitious while men are applauded for their assertiveness.” This double standard persists everywhere from professional workplaces to the halls of MIHS.
“It makes me upset and angry when I see female students being treated differently and on the outside,” Torrey said.
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, the Mercer Island community must remember to constantly stand against injustice toward all students.
“We’re not just helping women, people of color, and non-binary individuals,” Torrey said. “It’s helping everyone in the community because we’re opening up those lines of communication.”