Women's History Month
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Education and Empowerment

The 3rd grade girls received a special treat from Tatom Librarian, Bridget Schoolcraft on Friday, March 2, 2012 to celebrate Women's History Month. President of Ward County Teachers Credit Union, Kay Rankin; Ward County Tax Assessor, Vicki Heflin; District Nurse, Minnie Navarrete; Retired teacher, Phillis Samuels; CEA-FCS, Ward County Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Abigail Pritchard and Retired teacher and diagnostician, Sylvia Portillo were on hand to talk to the students about their jobs and their lives.

We asked why Mrs. Schoolcraft arranged this program. She said, "I see these girls and they have all this potential. I want the girls to know that they can make it happen. When I realized what the theme for Women's History Month was this year, I thought this is perfect. I wanted a diverse group of women to talk to the girls about their experiences."

The 3rd graders were split into groups with two speakers per group. The groups rotated every twenty minutes. The speakers spoke specifically about the type of education they earned, how education gives women freedoms and options, their jobs, positive and negative factors that influenced their lives, and why it's important that women utilize all opportunities.

Listed below are some of the subjects the ladies talked about with the girls.

Kay Rankin- "What is March the 2nd? It is Texas Independence Day. Independence is part of why we are here today. When you set goals and meet them, and you are independent in your mind, you can accomplish many things. An interesting group of men signed the Declaration of Texas Independence. They were not limited because of their race or gender. You have a chance to make opportunities in life. Education is not only about going to college. It is whatever will help improve you and make you good at what you choose to do in your life."

Vicki Heflin- "My husband (Brett) and I have owned several business in town. Then Brett went to work for Edward Jones and I went to work in the County Tax office. It was the first time we didn't own a business. It was a great decision for us. I started to work for the county in 2003 and moved my way up. I then campaigned for Tax Assessor and won. My education has helped my family not only financially but with time off to spend with my family, good benefits and health insurance."

Minnie Navarrete- "My mom was a big factor in my education. She encouraged me. She wanted me to finish school before I got married and had children. After I graduated, I got married and now have a three year old daughter."

Phillis Samuels- "You should be thinking about what you want to be. I set goals for myself and when I reach the goals, I set more goals. For instance, now I want to write children's books and want my daughter to illustrate them. I decided to go to college after I had my children. My kids and I did our homework together. We shared the experience together. I took college classes in Odessa, Monahans and Pyote. I taught 2nd grade for 24 years and now I'm retired! I volunteer with the community and the school. I help wherever I'm needed. Teaching was not a job. I enjoyed doing it. It is important to enjoy what you choose to do in your life."

Abigail Pritchard- "The people you have in your life will influence the direction you take. Take the time to find out a little something about the people in your life. It's great to have connections, they can help you later in life. It's always nice to know someone. When you grow up, you may end up working with or for someone you went to school with."

Sylvia Portillo- "I graduated 44 years ago from high school. I went to college at Sul Ross in Alpine. I graduated and was a teacher. I always wanted to be a teacher. Then I went back to school and can also teach P.E., health, art, special education, and I am a diagnostician. I worked hard and did everything I could to stay in school. My parents always said that I must get my education. I retired in 2003, but because there is a demand for diagnosticians I still help out school districts. I can speak English and Spanish and there is a high demand for diagnosticians that can speak both languages."

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