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Educators tasked with teaching new generation of students about 9/11

“Remembering September 12th is a great way to start thinking about how we can approach teaching September 11th.”
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 4:04 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Kyle Jones is a 7th grade Texas History teacher at Davila Middle School in Bryan, far from the sites of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but his memory of that day is still vivid.

He said he remembers walking up from football practice at Rayburn Middle School when a student coming out of the building asked him if he’d heard about what happened in New York.

Jones remembers not being to explain the situation to his students.

“We didn’t want to freak them out because we didn’t have any information about what was going on. And they were just kids,” said Jones.

What was a difficult conversation then, is an even more difficult one now, with an entire generation of students who weren’t yet alive when the attacks happened.

Most of us know what it means, when we hear the words, “9/11, never forget,” but some students are still learning.

Bobbi Rodriguez is the Social Studies Coordinator at College Station ISD. She said Texas does not require teachers to talk to their students about 9/11, but that most teachers do so anyway.

“Students are going to hear about 9/11 whether we talk about it in the classrooms or not,” she said, “So the best thing we can do as educators is to help them to place all those events and references that they are hearing into some context and give them a place where they can talk about it.”

Rodriguez said there are a lot of resources for teachers to use for their lessons. One of those resources includes the 9/11 Museum and Memorial’s free webinar. The webinar is available for all students and teachers around the world. According to the museum’s website, “Participants will learn about 9/11 through personal stories from 9/11 family members Cait Leavey, Brielle Saracini, and John Spade, first responders from the FDNY and PAPD, and a student on 9/11, and ask questions through a live chat with Museum staff. The webinar will be interpreted in American Sign Language and captioned. An audio description and Spanish subtitles will also be available.”

Jones and Rodriguez shared similar thoughts when asked about what message they want their students to remember about 9/11.

Jones said that he hopes his students think about “the heroes of the day, and how our country responded.”

“The underlying message, the thing we want to keep coming back to is that remembering September 11th is more than just this occasion, a thing that happened in the past that we just kind of say ‘well, today’s the day.’ It is an opportunity to reflect on who our nation is, what we believe in, what our values are, and ultimately, who we want to be as a country and how thinking about what happened after 9/11 can help us to get there,” said Rodriguez.

She added that the best way for teachers to start a conversation with their students on the topic of 9/11, is by first talking about what happened on September 12th.

For the full interview with Bobbi Rodriguez, watch here:

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