Teaching children about Sept. 11
Milford’s younger students don’t remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001 because they weren’t born yet.
Mayor Ben Blake pointed this out during a Sept. 11 ceremony at Live Oaks School Tuesday, where there is a memorial garden in honor of three Milford men who perished in the terrorist attacks: Michael Miller and Avnish Patel, graduates of Live Oaks School, and Seth Morris, who graduated from Mathewson School.
Tuesday’s ceremony also was dedicated to Jordan Pierson, who was 21 when he died fighting for his country in Iraq.
Second graders from Live Oaks, wearing construction paper-flags with an “11” pasted in the middle of them, honored the young men when they sang God Bless America. When the song ended, Mayor Blake noted that these students were not born when tragedy struck 11 years ago.
“These are the lessons that these students will learn in class,” Blake said.
And they will indeed learn about Sept. 11 in their Milford classrooms when they reach sixth grade because the this year introduced Sept. 11 lessons into the school curriculum.
Teachers Rachel Rowley and Mary Mannion from Jonathan Law High School on Monday night explained to the Board of Education the new course units that are now part of the curriculum and that will help ensure today’s youngsters learn about the terrorist attacks and the effect the attacks had on the country.
Rowley was a leader in bringing the coursework to the Milford schools, and the lessons are now a part of the curriculum in grade six through 11. Rowley said she is still working on the 12th grade curriculum.
The local teacher said she asked for permission to develop course material based on Sept. 11 after reading a letter from Lee Ielpi, president of the Sept. 11th Families’ Association.
In his letter, Ielpi wrote, “At the present time not a single state in the United States has a curriculum in place to teach the history of September 11, 2001.”
His letter continues, “The events of that day have affected and continue to affect U.S. foreign policy, our military actions, our economic actions, and our world psyche in evolving ways. We need to give students a concrete understanding of what happened that day, how people responded and how people have worked towards changing our world for the better.”
Rowley contacted the Tribute Center in New York City, where she had brought her Global Community students in the past to learn about the attacks of Sept. 11. She talked with leaders there, and she and other teachers met with them to come up with curriculum for Milford students.
In grade six, students will learn the history of Sept. 11, interviewing family and friends about what they remember from that day.
The grade seven focus will be on geography of Sept. 11, focusing on the people, the victims, the responders and others, and using a world map to connect the victims with their home counties to illustrate the broad impact of Sept. 11.
In grade eight, students will focus on actual events of the day, including phone calls made, and the role of the New York police and fire departments, citizens, survivors and first responders.
Grade nine will be a case study of terrorism, and grade 10 will analyze the actions of the terrorists in the months and days leading up to Sept. 11. Grade 11 will learn about the military response abroad, the civilian response, and the ongoing effort to fight terrorism.
Professor Chris York from Sacred Heart University visited Harborside Middle School this week to talk to seventh graders about the attacks.
“York is an actual eyewitness of the entire event and personally documented it with photos and other materials that he will present throughout the day,” said school spokeswoman Kathy Bonetti. “The lesson is a part of the flagship curriculum that has just been released from the Milford Public Schools about this time in American history.”
York partnered with Carolyn Shea, media specialist, and Cordelia Isiofia, teacher at Harborside, to put together the presentation.
Assistant Supt. Michael Cummings praised Rowley, Mannion and the other teachers for their initiative in creating the curriculum.
“What it does,” he said, “is it ties real memories with the practice of studying history.”