Yearly Archives: 2017

Celebrating The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Women & Girls from Bali to Boston

Recently, two weeks into an Indonesian adventure I set out on early last month, I encountered a rarity on the small island of Bali: a female driver. Though it’s not uncommon for women to work here — as maids, cooks, servers, shop keepers and more — she was the only woman I’d seen working as a professional driver to that point and remains the only one I’ve seen since. Her english was also impeccable — something all but one of the male Balinese drivers I’ve ridden with have struggled with — so as we snaked our way up a nearby mountainside on her motorbike we were able to connect over work-life balance, the beauty of the countryside, and the superiority of the small bananas you can get at most roadside stands and Balinese markets. (They really are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts.)

What I’ve learned both before and since on this trip is that, aside from the occasional driving gig, entrepreneurship is widespread among women in Bali. In fact, some reports estimate that Balinese women operate up to ninety percent of the small food stands and restaurants, called warungs, that line the streets from Denpasar to Ubud to Lovina, Amed and Padangbai. In fact, the tourist industry on Bali is — with the exception of drivers and tour guides — dominated by women. And their entrepreneurial drive is palpable.

Around the world, like around the island of Bali, we know economic empowerment is key in granting women freedom and equality. Which is why we’re excited to dedicate the month of March to the entrepreneurial spirit of women world wide as we celebrate both Women’s History Month here in the U.S. and International Women’s Day around the globe on March 8. 

Because as we at March 4th, Inc. have long preached: entrepreneurship isn’t just business. Being an entrepreneur means drawing on courage, resilience and determination to solve problems at home, work and everywhere in between. 

If you’d like to help foster entrepreneurship in girls in your community this month, check out Rana DiOrio and Emma D. Dryden’s What Does it Mean to be an Entrepreneur? For teachers, we also have free activities and curriculum for use in the classroom.

Black History Month at School: Normalization is the Best Celebration

The most dangerous conversations are always the ones we’re not having. If I want to know what is important in any given discussion I end up searching out the parts we’re not talking about. Reading between the lines is as important a skill as any. I learned this, among other things, during more than twenty-three years working in education by listening to other teachers, working on committees for equity, and experiencing my own issues of marginalization within the system. It wasn’t easy but I learned that what we wouldn’t discuss could inform me of our collective values just as much as what we did discuss. And that was, often, a painful place to be.

For example, we haven’t talked very much about racial equity in schools but the issue comes up in other ways. We’ll talk about an “achievement” gap without giving credence to biased testing or we’ll discuss why diversity is important and reach for the easiest answer: gender. But, race? We educators don’t make that a priority often enough.

Celebrating Black History Month, like many other things, doesn’t belong to a monolith. Not everyone will agree on it and there are two schools of thought: one, we should definitely celebrate it because important contributions have been made that make up the fabric of this nation or, two, if we did a better job of distributing African American history throughout our textbooks we wouldn’t need to “other” it by separating it apart from the rest of American history. I lean towards the latter, and I’ll tell you why:

Regardless of the school of thought, educators are often the first ones who look at Black History more this month than usual. It’s something that I realized wasn’t healthy to do for my students when I recognized that I was also compartmentalizing the achievements of Black Americans in my own mind. After a few years, I began to supplement the curriculum I was given by introducing it in ways that normalized it as a part of their learning instead.

By trade, I’m an English teacher and we’re told to stick with The Canon, but The Canon doesn’t always work for our students. Classrooms are increasingly (some 53%) not looking as homogenous as they have in the past. The natural growth in this nation following the de-segregation rules handed down by the Supreme Court means that those classrooms are now filled with the kind of diversity that reflects a shared history. So I began to believe that teaching a shared history, rather than a compartmentalized one was the best way to serve students of all races.

Of course working in public and private education also taught me to look for the results and seek out the research and here is what I learned: all students do better when diversity is celebrated regularly and is reflected in the teaching staff. If we want all students to do better we have to start having the conversations we’ve been avoiding around race and culture and the best way to do that is to stretch the historical contributions of Black Americans out all year long. The same can be said of Latino, Asian, Muslim, and a host of different cultures as well.

So celebrate Black History in the classroom this month if you must, but use it as a springboard for on-going curriculum not just one compartmentalized unit in the greater scope of students’ education. Normalization is the best celebration.

Kelly Wichkham Hurst is the Founder and Executive Director of Being Black at School where she advocates for equity and safety for Black students in classrooms across the nation. Before founding BBAS, Kelly spent more than 23 years in the education system as a teacher, literacy coach, guidance dean, and assistant principal. For more ways to promote equity in schools and help improve the experience of Black students check out the BBAS blog on Medium.

New Year, New Direction

Dear Friends:

Eight years ago, I founded Little Pickle Press, Inc. (now, March 4th, Inc.) to develop media that encourages meaningful conversations between children and their caring adults about topics that really matter. The challenge, of course, is that children learn best when they are unaware they’re doing so. We met this challenge by creating stories that engage and entertain children while relaying the value of character—qualities such as kindness, honesty, bravery, and patience—and inspiring its development.

Practicing What We Preach

Now more than ever, we believe that if society is to flourish (even survive), it must imbue character in its young people. Recent domestic and international events have made it increasingly clear that time is of the essence, and this sense of urgency has caused us to question whether we are doing all we can in service of young people, their caring adults, and our stakeholders. We concluded that our platform simply could not facilitate the impact we intended in a timely manner. So, practicing the growth mindset we preach, March 4th pivoted. Yesterday, we announced a new partnership with Sourcebooks, Inc., pursuant to which Sourcebooks acquired physical, e-book, foreign, and audio rights in all our existing titles, and Little Pickle Press became an imprint of Jabberwocky, Sourcebook’s children’s brand.

Why Sourcebooks?

With their steadfast belief that books change lives, a dynamic entrepreneur in Dominique Raccah at the helm (Publisher’s WeeklyPublishing Person of the Year” and Book Industry Study Group’s “Innovator of the Year”), and a seasoned crew of book-lovers, we quickly became convinced that a March 4th/Sourcebooks partnership was the best route to maximizing both the effect of our stories and shareholder value.

What Does This Mean?

The partnership with Sourcebooks not only validates all that we’ve accomplished but also gives us the benefit of an “800-lb. gorilla”—with a dedicated sales force covering the trade, as well as schools and libraries, and gift and specialty markets—to further our interests. Our powerful partner will now be the driving force behind our legacy business, leveraging strong industry relationships to place our stories in the hands of more children and paying March 4th licensing fees based on those improved results.

What About March 4th?

March 4th will, well, . . . march forth! We will contribute to the March 4th/Sourcebooks collaboration by sharing sales information and best practices (e.g., who knew that Ag In The Classroom has 50 chapters, most of which are interested in The Cow In Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen?). We will also help to chart a course for the Little Pickle Press imprint of Jabberwocky, so we’ll be seeking more intellectual property (so please keep the submissions coming via And we will leverage our intellectual property into stories and characters brought to life through videos, films, merchandise, EdTech platforms, and aStories™ (i.e., augmented story apps) for young people and in support of books and e-books published by our partners (Sourcebooks and others)—all with the continued purpose of inspiring character development in young people.

I’m very proud of the Sourcebooks partnership, as I deeply believe it serves the best interests of us all. Your belief in our purpose, patience, and support of our efforts have catalyzed this result—thank you! We are energized and excited about our future and look forward to briefing you about exciting new developments as they emerge. We hope that your New Year is filled with peace, laughter, fulfillment, and prosperity.

Very kindly,
Rana DiOrio