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Franchesca Heywood, Valley Pathways’ social studies teacher, reported at a recent School Board meeting that her first quarter Women’s Studies’ class has taken on a project to help raise funds for the Malala Fund. VP students created a calendar for sale to raise funds for the education project. A generous Valley donor had given a donation providing calendars to the members of the MSBSD School Board.
“Students in the first quarter Women’s Studies’ class looked a variety of individuals and topics—topics that allowed for deep discussion among students,” reported Ms. Heywood. Along with Ms. Heywood, speaking at the School Board meeting were Nate McMullen, Mariah Miller, and Alexandra Zuke. “Our message,” explained Ms. Heywood, “is simple, yet profound.”
Ms. Heywood wrote:
This year my Women’s Studies class was inspired to step out and make a difference to others in a unique way. Since this was my first time teaching this class I could not anticipate the wonderful direction in which my students would take this experience.
While exploring issues relevant to women we read the book, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Many people know her as the girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking up for girl’s education as well as becoming the youngest Nobel Prize winner. However, these things are not necessarily what inspired students to action.
Rather, they were stirred by her courageous activism at an extremely young age while under constant pressure from men with guns to stay silent. They were encouraged by her commitment to girl’s education despite being put on the Taliban’s hit list. They admired her strength to stay her chosen course even when thousands around her received the ultimate consequence for what had been deemed as “disobedience”.
Education is empowerment and this is what my students wanted to exercise more than anything in order to be activists themselves like Malala was, and continues to be, through the Malala Fund which works to provide education for girls. To do this they created a calendar called Beauty of a VPS Student. The purpose of the project is two-fold. First, students wanted to highlight and share with others what education through Valley Pathways has done for them. Second, by selling the calendar they wanted to be able to donate to the Malala Fund so that they could be part of her activism and be a change to the world, too.
Encouraged to set and achieve goals of their own, Valley Pathways’ students were quick to agree that studying the lives of individuals like Malala gave them encouragement to pursue their own dreams.

From Malala’s Story:
Malala was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, a town in the Swat District of northwest Pakistan. She was named by her father after a Pashtun heroine. An advocate for education, her father became an “outspoken opponent of Taliban efforts to restrict education and stop girls from going to school.” In 2009, writing a blog under a pseudonym, in support of education, Malala continued even though women were prevented from going shopping and then her father learned his school would be closed. Malala was featured in a documentary and was revealed by the creator for the New York Times as the author of the blog. In 2011, Malala received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. “Taliban leaders voted to kill her.” On October 9, 2012, as she and her friends were on the way to school, “a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck, and shoulder.” Over 2 million people worldwide signed her education petition, all in support of her protests against the Taliban. On December 10, 2014, Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with Indian children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthia. “Malala contributed her entire prize money of more than $500,000 to financing the creation of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan....Malala continues to fight for girls everywhere through the Malala Fund.” It is the goal to see every girl in school."
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For more information about obtaining a Valley Pathways 2017 calendar, you may call the school at 907-761-4650.