Maria Neli Sobreira, Reverend Mother and educator, was responsible for the literacy of children and social assistance (1946-2017) to families in Juazeiro do Norte City, in Ceará, in a period marked, predominantly, by the work of lay teachers in rural areas. A question arose, however, as to the extent of the educational formation and professional performance she had developed in order to become a relevant persona in the local collective memory. The objective of this study was to understand Neli Sobreira's educational background and, especially, her professional performance, in the interface between it and the socio-historical context, which fostered educational development in the countryside of Ceará. From a research methodologically based in oral biographical history, we have found that she was a nun who did not only act in the religious field of Juazeiro do Norte; on the contrary, Neli Sobreira was a pioneer woman in politics as a city counselor. She also became the first teacher there with a specific qualification similar to higher education. She was also very active in the area of social assistance, playing an important role in the education of children and in the struggle to guarantee the rights of the poor in Cariri.
Neli Sobreira; Biography; Juazeiro do Norte; Education of Women; Teaching.