International Women’s Day as an Administrator, Teacher, and Mom

Headshot of Emily Coleman at the 2017 American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference

International Women’s Day was March 8th, and all day long, many of the strong female influences in my life came to mind. My Mom, my sister, my aunts, my grandmas, my friends, and my female in-laws. I don’t consider myself a “social butterfly,” but I do gravitate toward book clubs, quilt groups, and more with admirable women. I celebrate all these relationships in different ways and am grateful for their influence in my life

As a parent of a blind child, I’ve also met many strong women. Mothers who didn’t expect to raise a child who was blind but have quickly met and raised expectations for all of us. Grandmothers who had to embrace the idea of a grandchild being blind but also had to witness their own daughters, or sons, go through it. Sisters whose lives were quickly and dramatically changed when a sibling with special needs moved into the house.

As a teacher of the visually impaired, I’ve been mentored by, and worked closely with, some of the most outstanding women in our field. Women who embraced students as if they were their own. Women who educated my son like he was any other kid and saw strengths only his family noticed. Women who went to work every day educating teams, driving long hours, and creating homemade teaching tools just to do what was right for students who were blind.

As an administrator at a school for the blind, I thought maybe there weren’t quite as many women within these roles. However, many women leaders showed up to the AFB Leadership Conference last week. Women who are CEOs, superintendents, and presidents and some also happen to be blind. Women who are educators traveling the world, who are leading university programs, who were presenting at the conference, or who are pushing the field to greater heights in their own worlds.

As a person with many identities, I most strongly identify with being a mom. It’s the only “title” that evokes emotion in me every time. It’s my favorite name to be called, and my favorite person to be. Although I admire and look up to women in a variety of roles, I relate the most to those of you reading this who are mothers. May you find yourself a leader in your home and in your child’s life because that is where the greatest work is done.

AFB posted this quote from Helen Keller on twitter this week, “Every child has a right to be well-born, well-nurtured, and well-taught, and only the freedom of women can guarantee him this right.”

Blog Posts by Emily Coleman

Raising a Child Who Is Blind and…

Seeing Our Child Who Is Blind

Give the Gift of Equality

Defining Our Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

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