In News & Media, Teacher Awards

For the 2016 Teacher Awards Winners, the 9/11 Tribute Museum presents nine awards to teachers who have created exemplary projects that guide students to understand the historical and humanitarian impact of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.


2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Marilyn ByrdTeacher: Marilyn Byrd
Grades: 9th – 12th
School: Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School; Bronx, New York
Principal: Jeff Palladino
Foundation: The Christopher Slattery 9/11 Memorial Foundation

As 9/11 transitioned from current event to history, teaching students to think like historians and be able to understand complexities has become vital. Eyewitness accounts are essential to understanding truth in history and developing citizens who will shape the future. In collaboration with Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program, Ms. Byrd created ten lesson plans and piloted them with her students (the lesson plans are available to other teachers). Students analyzed key speeches, the Patriot Act, the Zadroga Bill and the impact of terrorism internationally. Students were required to take a stand and evaluate their own ideas and opinions, while using evidence to back up their arguments. The lessons raise questions about the nature of human resilience, retribution, guilt, hopelessness, camaraderie and tenacity.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Kimberley Madalena, Amy Morillo & Sharon CatramboneTeacher: Kimberley Madalena, Amy Morillo & Sharon Catrambone
Grade: 8th
School: Washington Middle School; Harrison, New Jersey
Principal: Michael Landy
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund

Inspired by, these 8th grade students, with guidance from their language arts teachers, researched people they considered real-life heroes and wrote to them. Copies of their letters to local members of the military, firefighters, police officers, public health officials, social workers and teachers were mounted, in addition to photos, quotes and artwork, to become the “Hallway of Heroes.” The project took on greater momentum when the students invited their heroes to their school. On September 18th, 32 heroes arrived for a full day presentation. Students scheduled each speaker and created a catered “greenroom” with homemade foods. One of the heroes included a waterfront restaurant manager who comforted survivors arriving to New Jersey on 9/11.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Kevin JohnsonTeacher: Kevin Johnson
Grade: 8th
School: Lynnville-Sully Community School District; Sully, Iowa
Principal: Teri Bowlin
Foundation: The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust

Students in Iowa learned more about their country and how we are all impacted by events in our nation. Language arts teacher Mr. Johnson asked students to describe leadership and character. By interviewing their family members, other locals and sending letters to leaders across the county, students collected first-hand accounts to make their own connections about 9/11, and how people can unify a community/nation. Students continued to gather information from six skype interviews with: Drew Gallagher, ESPN Producer of “The Man in the Red Bandana,” Alison Crowther, retired Boston Fire Chief Peter Lamb, as well as teachers and students in Boston and the New York area. Student led interviews followed with additional research and writing projects.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Stefanie WoodsTeacher: Stefanie Woods
Grade: 11th
School: Bayonne High School; Bayonne, New Jersey
Principal: Richard Baccarella
Foundation: The Brooke Jackman Foundation

Current students were infants when 9/11 occurred and have no recollection of the attacks. But many of their teachers were deeply and personally affected, as was Mrs. Woods. As a language arts teacher, she asked her students to create a “found” poem, inspired by the story of the Survivor Tree. Students were provided with a resource of headlines from 50 newspapers, creating a poetry project entitled a “headline poem” as part of the Common Core standard for poetry. Students were asked to re-arrange chosen words into a 14-line poem, which helped them make connections to the texts and people’s individual narratives surrounding the events of 9/11.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards James Burns & Scott CottonTeacher: James Burns & Scott Cotton
Grades: 11th – 12th
School: Global Online Academy; Seattle, Washington
Principal: Eric Hudson
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund

Mr. Burns and Mr. Cotton co-created a 14 week online course that puts 9/11 into a global context. Students explore the causes of 9/11, the events and outcomes reflecting on terrorism, political Islam, ISIS and more. The unique aspect of this approach is that students examine each from multiple perspectives ending with an analysis of our current world. Students in schools around the nation and world interact with this online curriculum and with each other. They not only evaluate the historic content, but evaluate the lens and perspective that each document and assigned material portrays. The materials, analysis and inter-school online dialogue generates a greater understanding of their own world view.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Ms. Preciado & Mrs. MallayTeacher: Ms. Preciado & Mrs. Mallay
Grades: 6th – 8th
School: Our Lady of the Snows School; Floral Park, New York
Principal: Joseph Venticinque
Foundation: The Terence D. Gazzani 9/11 Scholarship Fund

Many of the parents in this school lived through the terrorist attacks of 9/11 so a central goal was to help the children comprehend their families’ experiences. This afterschool program met once a week for several months. Lessons focused on the architecture of the Twin Towers, advancements in forensics and first responders. Critical thinking skills were encouraged, stimulating high-level dialogue. Students also tapped into their personal connections to learn more about the attacks. Their written reports, PowerPoint presentations, a book, media productions and models were showcased to the school at a 9/11 presentation. A wall mural is now on permanent display in the school’s library.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Christopher C. MurrayTeacher: Christopher C. Murray IV
Grades: 11th – 12th
School: Walter Johnson High School; Bethesda, Maryland
Principal: Jennifer Baker
Foundation: The Greg Richards, Larry Polatsch, Scott Weingard (GLS)
Memorial Foundation

In this class on World Religions, Mr. Murray looked at communities who follow minority religions in the U.S. In his unit on Islam, he focused on 3 themes — Islam the religion, Islamophobia and Islamic Extremism. His current students have no first-hand knowledge of 9/11, so he has them explore the roots of Al Qaeda, and follows up with a look at the political culture of countries in the Middle East that support extremist groups today. He brings in academic experts to discuss each of his main themes and shows the class documentaries that have been created to illuminate these issues. Mr. Murray’s goal is to have his students know how to dig beyond superficial ideas conveyed in the news media.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards Richard FeldmanTeacher: Richard Feldman
Grade: 6th
School: C.S. 211; Bronx, New York
Headmaster: Tanya Drummond
Foundation: The Family of Firefighter Michael D. Mullan

Sixth graders were engaged in a project of memorialization and remembrance. Over 10 lessons and several months, the children’s culminating project was to create memorials to 9/11. Beginning with many books and articles, students wrote about their heroes and interviewed two guest speakers, a firefighter and a family member. Activities included planting roses in their school garden and building a memorial bench dedicated to community members involved in 9/11. After visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the 9/11 Tribute Center, students created a mural for the school, contributing pictures representing something they had learned. Connecting children to their fears and natural curiosity about 9/11 helped them think more deeply about the world they are living in.

2016 9/11 Tribute Museum Teacher Awards James FagenTeacher: James Fagen
Grades: 11th – 12th
School: Manasquan High School; Manasquan, New Jersey
Principal: Rick Coppola
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund

Mr. Fagen uses September 11th to teach perspective, cultural differences and illustrate the impact that an event can have upon society. As a primary source, Mr. Fagen shared his personal experience on 9/11. Using the film “The Hamburg Cell” and the book “Securing Liberty”, the class analyzed how terrorists justify their actions. This led to many class periods devoted to discussion and debate including combating terrorism, preventive detention and cybersecurity. A Homeland Security officer from Ground Zero also visited the school. Common Core alignments were thoughtfully presented. The project goal, to define terrorism, included contrasting events such as Columbine and the historic Boston Tea Party. Students then wrote compelling papers summarizing what they learned.

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2016 Teacher Awards Winners