In News & Media, Teacher Awards

For the 2019 Teacher Awards Winners, the 9/11 Tribute Museum presents five 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: Rebecca Benjamin

Grades: 4th Grade
School: Pleasant Valley Elementary School, Schnectady, NY
Principal: Sean Inglee
Foundation: The Brooke Jackman Foundation; and The Christopher Slattery 9/11 Memorial Foundation

Students are introduced to 9/11 through an article about the Harlem Boys Choir singing “We Shall Overcome” at sporting events and memorial services for 9/11 victims. This became a conversation about the events that occurred on 9/11, and the national response to the attacks.

Students wrote response pieces, and considered the larger picture of tragedies, challenges, and acts of kindness to support recovery. They analyzed lyrics to “We Shall Overcome” and discussed the significant message helping the nation heal.

They wrote and shared reflection pieces recounting personal, family, and community challenges, and responded to each other with written and verbal affirmations. They wrote plans for a positive impact on those facing challengesin our school and community. One of these plans includes painting lyrics and inspirational messages in the school, which is being implemented.


Teacher: Michael Ozohonish

Grades: 6th-8th Grades
School: Bethlehem-Center Middle School, Fredericktown, PA
Principal: Garrett Edmonds
Foundation: The Terence D. Gazzani 9/11 Scholarship Fund; and The Terry Farrell Firefighters’ Fund

This lesson is comprised of five parts. Part one consists of what happened on September 11, 2001. Part two entails each student interviewing a parent or relative who was alive during 9/11. Part three involves integrating technology and research into creating a tribute poster honoring one of the nearly 3,000 victims who perished on 9/11.

Part four consists of making real-world connections. This was accomplished by spending several weeks prior to this unit making connections with family members who lost a loved one at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, or aboard one of the planes. The students sent letters and emails to the nearly 50 families who agreed to participate, and learned firsthand what these people had gone through and the impact that 9/11 had on them. The final part of the unit was a field trip to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


Teacher: Cody Thatcher & Mike Hix

Grades: 7th Grade
School: Schoo Middle School, Lincoln, NE
Principal: Cedric Cooper
Foundation: The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust; and The Terry Farrell Firefighters’ Fund

We teach 7th grade world history and our focus is ancient history, not United States history. However, we feel it is very important that our scholars learn about the events of September 11th and how the world has changed since.

The scholars ask adults at school and at home to talk about their experiences and memories of 9/11. We also share our personal experiences from the day, for example as a 4th grade student in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Resources are pulled from different sources ranging from CBS News, CNN 10, The Lincoln Journal Star, MTV, and countless other images from the day. The purpose of the lesson is to not only learn about the events of 9/11 but also to understand how life has changed since. And exposing scholars to local (Nebraska) connections to 9/11 aids in their learning by providing more local context, which can be replicated in any community.

Teacher: Xochitl Valtierra

Grades: 6th Grade
School: Valley Horizon Elementary School, Yuma, AZ
Principal: Ana Noriega
Foundation: The Greg Richards, Larry Polatsch, Scott Weingard Memorial Fund; and The Terry Farrell Firefighters’ Fund

The project has the class working on a ‘hyperdoc’, which can be described as an interactive worksheet. The project started on September 11 and spans a week. The students each received a copy of the hyperdoc with a schedule on what was expected to be done on each day.

  • Day 1:
    • Watch video.
    • Answer reflective questions.
  • Day 2:
    • Read “A History of the 9/11 Attacks.”
    • 4 corners on “History of the 9/11 Attacks.”
    • Chunk the text
  • Day 3:
    • Main Idea for each chunk.
    • Make Inferences.
  • Day 4:
    • Use summary plan to write a summary of
    • “A History of the 9/11 Attacks.”
  • Day 5:
    • Explore the 9/11 Interactive Memorial Museum virtually.
    • Read “Museum Interactive Catches Messages of
    • Sympathy & Hope” online passage.
    • Write a ‘Note of Hope.’

Making inferences, main idea, and summarizing are all skills that are worked on from the beginning of the school year up until this project and are incorporated into their project along with 9/11 readings and videos.

Honorabel Mention

Teacher: Putnam Murdock

Grades: 8th Grade
School: Friends Academy, North Dartmouth, MA
Principal: Benjamin Kennedy

Our eighth grade through-line is empowerment. These students are asked to lead the school and show the best versions of themselves. In music, we focus on social justice, human rights, and equality to remind students of their role in society. With a strong foundation of empathy, these students can grasp and tackle these issues. Music continues to provide the vehicle for change, our responsibility to it, and the courage it takes to do so.

After the strong impact of their visit to New York City on 9/11/18, these eighth grade students returned determined to create “ripples” of change and kindness. In music, our conversations revolved around their experiences, particularly from the 9/11 Tribute Museum, and from seeing the Broadway musical “Come From Away”, inspired by the events of 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.

The students created the theme “Ripples of Kindness” for their winter concert and wrote a song about paying it forward. Their New York City experiences became the lyrics. They also chose other songs and readings to share with a similar theme and asked their audience to embrace “paying it forward”.

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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2018 Teacher Awards Winners