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2018 Teacher Awards Winners

For the 2018 Teacher Awards Winners, the 9/11 Tribute Museum presents seven 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.

Teacher: Cara Denbrock

Grades: Elementary
School: T.C. Knapp Elementary School, Canton OH
Principal: Tricia Self
Foundation: The Brooke Jackman Foundation

Following a meaningful trip I made to the 9/11 Memorial, I was inspired to design a project for my second grade students using technology, literature and discussion that would teach them about 9/11 and also develop a true sense of patriotism and remembrance.

Just before 9/11, I ask the students if they have ever heard of 9/11 and most have not. We talk about the events and then I ask them to go home and ask their parents if they remember where they were when they found out what happened. The next day we discuss their conversations at home and throughout the week we engage books and videos that are appropriate for their age. The students also do journal writing and art projects. This year I invited a 9/11 survivor from New York City to come and talk to the students, and the students later wrote letters to her to make a meaningful connection to their learning.

Teacher: Genna Callahan

Grades: Elementary
School: PS/IS 116 William C. Hughley School, Jamaica, NY
Principal: Debra Farrow
Foundation: The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust

There is nothing more important than learning from experiences. This is one reason why it is so important to teach about 9/11, not only because of the tragedy, but because the experience made many stronger and shined a light into our city.

Our class analyzed events from September 11, 2001. The students had questions that needed answering before an upcoming fieldtrip to the 9/11 Tribute Museum.

When we arrived at Tribute, we met a volunteer who shared firsthand accounts of how 9/11 affected her husband, a first responder who died on 9/11. She discussed Sadako, a child diagnosed with leukemia after the Hiroshima bombing, who made 1,000 paper cranes to try to cure herself. One of those cranes was donated to the 9/11 Tribute Museum as a symbol of peace. My students were amazed and decided to give back. They researched origami, then used those models to make 3-D printed cranes. The cranes were donated to Tribute.

Teacher: Nancy Re Cregan

Grades: Elementary
School: Lady of Trust Catholic Academy, Brooklyn, NY
Principal: Arlene Barcia
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighter’ Scholarship Fund

For the first week of school my 2nd graders were involved in a 9/11 project that involved Reading, Writing, Art, Community Service, Math and Social Studies. We started by reading 5 books about 9/11 and focused on Message on a Wing by Ericco. This is the story of a young Japanese girl who sent paper cranes to 9/11 families, so they would know that someone far away was thinking of them. We decided to do the same thing. We selected a school named after the same patron saint as ours that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

We sent them pictures of Mary that we made to show them that children in New York were praying for them. We also worked with our Student Council to raise money for the school in Texas. Although we raised only a few hundred dollars for St. Mary’s, the students in Texas arrived back at school to know that people all the way in New York we were thinking of them.

This unit plan involved reading books, writing notes and coloring pictures, outreach to Texas, and map and globe skills in both Social Studies and Math.

Teacher: Doug DePice, Melissa Heintjes & Amanda Wargocki

Grades: Middle School & High School
School: Secaucus Middle & High Schools, Secaucus, NJ
Principal: Robert Berckes & Robert Valente
Foundation: Terence D. Gazzani 9/11 Scholarship Fund

Our teaching objective was multifaceted, designed to inspire students to “Think Higher and Feel Deeper” in order to make an emotional connection to this historic tragedy. We created an interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the events of 9/11. We taught using the vantage point of the Survivor Tree to extract imaginative analogies. The students were required to imagine the experience of that day as if they were the tree. Our themes for the Survivor Tree stories were remembrance, rebirth and resilience.

We feel this higher-level thinking prepares students for future leadership and global citizenship roles in society. We hypothesize that this approach to learning nurtures students’ open-focus skills and allows them to embrace pressing global issues. This methodology of teaching and learning enables students to develop the skills needed for future job markets: cooperation, collaboration, communication and creative-problem solving.

Teacher: Katie Fernandez Blake

Grades: High School
School: Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ
Principal: Russ Davis
Foundation: The Christopher Slattery 9/11 Memorial Foundation

“Where you were on 9/11?” has become my generation’s “Where were you when JFK was shot?” Given our close proximity to the World Trade Center, people from New Jersey constituted over 700 of the approximately 3,000 victims claimed on that fateful day. Yet for my students’ generation, they have no memory of the event, and most have never formally learned about the 9/11 attacks in an academic setting. This became the inspiration for the 9/11 elective course I created three years ago.

Specifically, this oral history assignment gives students an opportunity to interact with people who have a vivid memory of the attacks on 9/11. Students interview two different subjects about where they were when they first heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, what they did after first hearing about the attacks and their reflections on 9/11’s impact on the U.S. Since many of my students pick subjects they are related to, it also provides them with an opportunity to document some family history.

Teacher: James Fagen

Grades: High School
School: Manasquan High School, Manasquan, NJ
Principal: Rick Coppola
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters’ Scholarship Fund

September 11th had a major impact on my life. I watched the second plane hit looking outside my college cafeteria window and saw the Towers fall from my college dorm room. For history, we are at the point that students today have no memory of the events at all. This lesson was designed to have students analyze primary sources to understand the confusion of the events in the immediate aftermath.

My elementary school history teacher (Chris Rooney) recently gave me a collection of about 25 newspapers about 9/11 and I wanted to find a good use for them. In this lesson, students review newspapers published from September 12-18, 2001 to see what stories were told and if there were any inaccuracies due to the timing of the reports.

Students were taught how to analyze and fact check sources and asked to report on any inaccuracies or conflicting reports they found. We also discussed various urban legends that were being spread in the overwhelming and confusing days following 9/11. We explored the use of sources for reporting and the need for the media to use credible sources.

Teacher: Kathleen Haslett

Grades: High School
School: Iroquois Jr./Sr. High School, Erie, PA
Principal: Doug Wilson
Foundation: The Greg Richards, Larry Polatsch, Scott Weingard Memorial Fund

When I learned that 9/11 had become a National Day of Service, I knew that I wanted to get our students involved. The objective was to teach students about the events of 9/11, how the events still affect the world today and honor those lost by participating in service. I have also realized over the years how little teens today know about September 11th since many of them were not born. We as a faculty felt it was important for them to learn so we never forget.

After an all-school assembly, including a video discussing the impact of 9/11 on many faculty members, the entire student body performed a variety of community service activities, some that took place on school grounds and others that were off campus. Students also listened to speakers who have devoted their lives to service, showcasing that they choose to serve their communities and encourage students to do the same.

9/11 Tribute Museum Education Programs and Resources are made possible in part by the CME Group Community Foundation and the Zurich Community Grants Program.

The 9/11 Tribute Museum has a deep commitment to teaching 9/11 in the classroom. Personal experiences and stories are shared to help children understand the humanity and community that was both lost and found in the aftermath of 9/11. Learn more about our Educational Program offerings, Booking a Class Visit, or organizing a Distance Learning program.

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