Previous Award-Winners

Over the years the Teacher Awards program has been made possible by the generous support of several family foundations who are committed to supporting education:

  • The Brooke Jackman Foundation
  • The Christopher Slattery September 11th Memorial Foundation
  • The Greg Richards, Larry Polatsch
  • Scott Weingard (GLS) Memorial Fund
  • The Michael J. Armstrong Memorial Foundation
  • The Mullan family in memory of Firefighter Michael D. Mullan
  • The Terence D. Gazzani 9/11 Scholarship Fund
  • The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund
  • The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust

Additional support has been provided by the September 11th Families’ Association.

Review this year’s Teacher Award Winners


Previous Award Winners

2015 – 2016 Awardees

Marilyn Bryd

Teacher: 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.

Download this Lesson Plan




Teacher: 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.



Kevin Johnson

Teacher: 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.

Download this Lesson Plan



Stefanie Woods

Teacher: 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.

Download this Lesson Plan




Teacher: 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.

Download this Lesson Plan




Teacher: 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.



Murray 1

Teacher: 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.



Feldman student work

Teacher: 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.

Download this Lesson Plan



Fagen Class Photo

Teacher: 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.

Download this Lesson Plan



2014 – 2015 Awardees


Teacher: Dr. Susan Miller

School: Middleborough High School, MA
Grade: 9th – 12th
Principal: Paul F. Branagan Jr.
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund

Middleborough High School is located close to Boston and several teachers participated in the Boston Marathon in 2013. Many of the faculty were also working at the school on September 11, 2001 and these connections led Dr. Miller to conceive an oral history project to ensure all members of the school were aware of and sensitive to the importance of preparedness in the event of a terrorist attack.

Dr. Miller introduced the study of world history in reverse, and started with 9/11/01. The basis for this method was a collaborative year-long project between her U.S. history, world history, and current issues and special education classes. Students were asked to create a timeline of events as they unfolded, research how the media presented 9/11, interview veterans of the following wars, and participate in a drive collecting supplies for soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

Dr. Miller guided students in interviewing the school’s faculty about what it was like to be teaching as they learned about the attacks on the day itself and in the months afterwards. They also interviewed the school staff and their own families. The following questions were addressed:

  • How did we handle the attack?
  • What did we learn from it?
  • Are we better prepared for what the future brings?

Students videotaped their oral history interviews, edited them and created a remarkable video that is about their particular school but captures the mood of the nation in the fall of 2001. This video will be part of the town’s Middleborough Historical Society archive and will be shown each year on 9/11 to the school community.




Teacher: Gail Frydkowski & Zach Rothman-Hicks

School: High School for Health Professions & Human Services, NY
Grade: 12th
Principal: Robert Gentile
Foundation: The Brooke Jackman Foundation

Ms. Frydkowski and Mr. Rothman-Hicks asked their language arts students to identify a “defining moment” in their own lives. The teachers used this to explain how 9/11 was a global defining moment for many generations and is now identified by some people as a “Day of Infamy.”

After discussing the events and facts of that day and creating biographies about individuals or groups that were affected, students focused on the humanitarian efforts that followed. Students were asked to think about their personal responses to this world-changing day. Finally, the teachers tied these topics together through the theme of memorialization. Students each created a memorial art piece about the victim or group they had studied previously in their biographies. Art pieces were displayed in a “gallery” and ranged from photography, to drawings, to poetry, to song playlists.

This project encompassed seven class periods and utilized statistics, literature, film, oral histories, and music in the class discussions. As the school is located in a neighborhood that was directly affected by 9/11, this project was of strong interest to the students. One reflected: “[Learning about 9/11] made us stronger…and made us appreciate what we have in life. This class made me realize the importance of love.”




Teacher: Judi Freeman

School: Boston Latin School, MA
Grade: 11th & 12th
Principal: Lynne Mooney Teta
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund

September 11th is an anchor for Ms. Freeman when teaching her 20th and 21st century history courses to her nearly 150 juniors and seniors. On the anniversary of 9/11, students are prompted to think about how a school much like theirs—Stuyvesant High School—responded to 9/11; they read With Their Eyes aloud.

Throughout the year, the class explores two key questions in contemporary history: 1. How and why the attacks happened and 2. What do the words of witnesses teach us about human behavior and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of the horror of mass violence? This class also focuses on the dangers of stereotyping and the notion of the “other.”

Later, students study other episodes of mass violence and create a “toolbox” one could use to address violent incidents. In May they synthesize their reflections and end with a major project in which students design and build maquettes for memorials to episodes of violence and tragedy. Often these include several memorials to September 11th, the Boston Marathon bombing, or a combination of the two.

The memorials are then displayed in a 3-week public exhibition. This connects the school to the community as well as serving as a tie between the students and terrorist attacks of the past such as the Boston Marathon bombing and September 11th. Ms. Freeman reflects, “I realize that this history is now fixed in their minds. They advocate for remembering it and consequently, through the power of what they create, they do.”




Teacher: Kathleen Connon

School: Scarsdale Middle School, NY
Grade: 8th
Principal: Michael McDermott
Foundation: The Family of Firefighter Michael D. Mullan

Inspired by her visit to the 9/11 Tribute Center and the ESPN film reporting the story of “The Man in the Red Bandanna,” Ms. Connon integrated her own project ideas with those of the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust’s curriculum.

In addition to utilizing this curriculum, Ms. Connon collected several witness testimonies and reflections on the events of 9/11, which the students read and heard. These included “On Monday I Emailed Jokes,” and “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” by Alan Jackson, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, and With Their Eyes by Annie Thomas. The students then researched and wrote oral history papers, poetry, and essays on the themes of forgiveness, trust, and resilience. Welles’ mother was also invited to their school for Human Rights Day. The 8th grade students were so moved that they started a Red Bandanna campaign that raised funds for the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust. The students also took a field trip to the ladder company where Welles volunteered. Ms. Connon describes her inspiration, goals, and reflections in one: “In a very fragile world, I teach human values…this project focuses on our empathy for others, and students are able to communicate about terrorism, hope, and faith in humanity.”




Teacher: Kristina Seligson

School: PS/IS 127Q, NY
Grade: 6th
Principal: Evita Sanbria
Foundation: The Terence D. Gazzani 9/11 Scholarship Fund

Ms. Seligson introduced 9/11 by presenting the facts of the attacks to students who were not born when they occurred. The main focus of her teaching, however, was to study how ordinary people stepped up in extraordinary ways in response.

The lesson, taught to all three of her English language arts sections, was comprised of four phases. The first phase identified the students’ prior understanding of 9/11 through a Know-Want-Learn (KWL) chart. In the second phase, students studied the events of 9/11 and the following humanitarian response through articles and videos. During the third phase, students were briefed on the profiles of eight “heroes” who exemplify the legacy of 9/11, and then selected one person to further research and commemorate. The fourth phase occurs throughout the school year. In this, Ms. Seligson’s goal was to “theme” the school year with love, compassion, and sacrifice whenever possible to help others in ways big and small. This meant students participated in several community service projects with the spirit and legacy of 9/11 in mind.

Recently students began studying “The Hero’s Journey” and were asked to write about what they think of the word “hero.” Several of the 9/11 heroes studied earlier in the year were represented. As a result of Ms. Seligson’s careful approach, students clearly understand the profound implications the terrorist attacks of September 11th have had on our world, and students have already become engaged as active citizens within their community.




Teacher: Mario Fitzpatrick

School: McQueen High School, NV
Grade: 10th
Principal: Sue Denning
Foundation: The Greg Richards, Larry Polatsch, Scott Weingard Memorial Fund (GLS Memorial Fund)

Mr. Fitzpatrick conceptualized his project after attending two professional development workshops—the first focused on the study of September 11th while the second guided social studies teachers through the Close Read method used by many English language arts classes.

In this unit designed to answer one of students’ most frequently asked questions about 9/11: “Why did the terrorists attack the U.S.?” Using the Close Read method, students studied Osama bin Laden’s fatwa issued on February 23, 1998. Through a series of questions and worksheets examining other samples of radicalizing propaganda, students were able to deeply analyze the words used in the document and the meanings behind them. Additional resources that the class used include other primary source documents, including Islamist terrorist propaganda.

This project comes at the end of a unit on terrorism as part of his world history class and helps to bridge the gap of studying September 11th from a historical context into one of present-day. The unit is scheduled for the end of the school year to ensure students leave his world history class with an understanding of the roots of many current events. In this way students are given a more comprehensive understanding of terrorism as a concept. Students also find the lesson to be relevant since issues of terrorism have been a major part of their young lives.




Teacher: Nicholas DeAntonis

School: Academy of Information Technology & Engineering, CT
Grade: 10th – 12th
Principal: Maria Rivera
Foundation: The Christopher Slattery 9/11 Memorial Foundation

Mr. DeAntonis has not only created a project on the subject of September 11th, but an entire unit. This history unit was designed to address the students’ desire to know more about 9/11 while teaching them that everyday citizens are an important part of 9/11’s evolving historical narrative. The students heard about the intense fear that gripped people when they learned of the attacks, but also learned about the overwhelming feelings of unity and dedication that followed.

As major component of this unit, students conduct interviews of adults in their lives such as friends, family, and teachers about how they experienced the events of 9/11. These interviews later serve as the core component in their reflection paper which aims to answer “How 9/11 Changed America.” Students are given three weeks to conduct these interviews, write reflections, and compose a short PowerPoint presentation that highlights their findings.

The rest of the unit examines the origins of the 9/11 attacks as well as the legacy it has left behind. Once complete, students present their PowerPoint presentations to each other and the class completes their unit with a field trip to both the 9/11 Tribute Center and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Mr. DeAntonis finds using alternative methods of teaching vital to reach students when approaching a subject such as history: “[An] aim in creating this project was to teach my students that history is something that is evolving and even average citizens can contribute to 9/11’s historical narrative…Any time [any time is two words] I can have my students learn outside of a textbook, I will do it.”




Teacher: Vickie Slaydon

School: Bethany Elementary School, NC
Grade: K – 5th
Principal: Elizabeth Covell
Foundation: The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust

Enhancement teachers (music, art, computer, gym and library) took the lead in creating a schoolwide 9/11 anniversary “Education and Remembrance” event to introduce young students to the history of September 11th.

The programs occur in Ms. Slaydon’s music room and are crafted for each individual age group across the entire elementary school. Topics covered include character education, anti-bullying, 9/11 myth debunking, remembrance, and service. Mr. Hall gave a presentation to each class using age-appropriate books, video clips, visual tools, and oral histories. One of these oral histories was that of Mr. Hall, as he discussed his time in New York serving as a recovery volunteer at the World Trade Center site.

In this community-centered, rural area the volunteer fire department has been a huge supporter of the school’s educational endeavors by helping to celebrate students’ reading and art achievements.

As an optional part of the event, the local fire department sponsored an art contest in which students could submit works of art based on what they’d learned or felt afterwards. This school-wide memorial is a prime example of what schools can do to educate their students on the subject of 9/11 during their remembrance ceremonies as well as how to teach such a subject to younger students. This remembrance event has now become an annual 9/11 memorial commemoration.



20013 – 2014 Awardees

Genevieve Berretta's 5th grade students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Genevieve Berretta

School: PS 119, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Grade: 5th
Principal: Lisa Fernandez
Foundation: The Brooke Jackman Foundation

Genevieve Berretta is an English language arts teacher and editor of the: “The Lantern,” a P. S. 119 literary magazine. To commemorate the heroism of firefighters on September 11th, fifth grade students crafted Small Moment Historical Fiction Narratives, which focus on the breathtaking bravery of New York City firefighters on that day and every day. The writing samples from the children reflect a thoughtful and introspective understanding of 9/11. Exemplary student writing is featured in “The Lantern” and on the P.S. 119 website.

“I hear the sirens start screeching down the streets. I hear a lot of traffic. On the speakers the chief said, ‘get on the trucks! The Twin Towers are burning!’ Everyone slid down the poles and ran down the stairs. We drove over to the twin towers. Someone in the truck said ‘I wish I never became a firefighter. It was my dream but now I’m just scared!’ I replied: ‘Then embrace your dream! Follow it! We have your back. Don’t forget we are here for you buddy.’ I got out of the truck, put on my mask and looked up. The smoke was very thick. I didn’t think I would make it. I gave my phone to that person and told them to call and tell my family that I loved them. We marched in one by one. We could barely see. I don’t… think… I… could… make it.” By Courtney, 5th grade



Deirdre M. Hurley's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Deirdre M. Hurley

School: Bayonne High School, Bayonne, NJ
Grade: 9th and 11th
Principal: Richard Baccarella
Foundation: The Greg Richards, Larry Polatsch, Scott Weingard (GLS) Memorial Fund

Deirdre Hurley was interested in utilizing oral histories in her classroom, bringing in first-person narratives to make history relevant, to students while they develop language arts skills. While attending a workshop to develop these skills, she realized that she could invite her own mother, a survivor of 9/11, to speak with her 9th and 11th grade English classes. In September, when students do not necessarily know each other very well, she found this experience to be profoundly engaging and it deeply affected the students, creating an atmosphere of trust and openness that lasted for days and weeks. The oral history project continued to grow. Students commemorated the anniversary of 9/11 by conducting their own oral histories. Each student conducted an interview of at least one family member about their recollections of 9/11, and then shared those memories with the class. The students also read articles about the history of the attacks and listened to music that had been written in response to 9/11, including The Rising by New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen. The culmination of the project, interviewing their teacher’s mother, made an enormous impact because of the students’ eager engagement and the interviewee’s candid and spontaneous responses. The oral history project continued to grow and students also participated in a community service under the “I Will” pledge program created by 9/11 Day of Service.



Kirsten Kenny's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Kirsten Kenny

School: Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, Buffalo, NY
Grade: 9th
Head of School: Jennifer Demert
Foundation: The Christopher Slattery 9/11 Memorial Foundation

Ms. Kenny teaches a curriculum she created, September 11th: Courtney and Father Myke, as the first unit in her ninth-grade religion class every year, to inspire personal discussions of faith, spirituality, existentialism and human connectedness. The unit is built around two videos telling the 9/11 stories of Courtney Timms Maloney, an alumna and classmate who survived the attacks, and Father Mychal Judge, beloved Chaplain of the Fire Department of New York.

Within the lessons, the students explore the themes of survival, hope and love in classroom discussions and journal writing activities. Ms. Kenny created the video about Courtney herself, and shares a documentary, The Saint of 9/11 on Father Judge. Father Judge rushed to the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11, and was in the command post in the North Tower praying with people where he died when the South Tower collapsed. Ms Kenney’s closest friend, Courtney, was working on the 77th floor of the South Tower, and survived the attacks. The wisdom that Courtney gained from living through that experience is inspirational in encouraging students to support each other and pursue their dreams. The deep personal connection the teacher feels to 9/11 impresses the importance of this bravery and faith upon her students, and allows them to explore discussions of these elements in their own lives.



Jill McCracken's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teachers: Jill McCracken

School: Holmdel High School
Grade: 9th – 12th
Principal: William Loughran
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Scholarship Fund

Ms. McCracken, having worked with the New Jersey Department of Education’s Commission on Holocaust Education, helped write a curriculum on teaching terrorism and 9/11. She teaches international relations with a unit called Terrorism & 9/11: A Threat to Human Peace and Security. In it, her students explore a case study in contemporary terrorism, focusing on the events of September 11, 2001. Students delved into the experiences of Tom McGlennon, a firefighter from nearby Long Branch, N.J. A second lesson is devoted to the concept of memorial and remembrance, and students were guided to reflect on the memorialization of those lost in 9/11 as well as other terrorist attacks.

In the first unit, following an introduction to the topic of 9/11, students were asked to read the story of local professional firefighter. He was on duty in the firehouse that day and simultaneously followed the events on the news and via the radio scanner that was connected to the New York City emergency frequency. He and several fellow firefighters traveled to Ground Zero when their shifts were over to bring supplies and help in any way they could. After learning what he and his men faced at the site and how the attack affected them, students discussed his story, stories of other first responders, and the definition of “hero.” The second unit studied the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and three memorials to those individuals lost (Lockerbie, Scotland; Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia; and Syracuse University, New York). Students then discussed what elements should go into memorials to victims of terrorist attacks. Students designed their own memorials and were encouraged to submit relevant artwork to the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s Artists’ Registry.



Kathleen Menake's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Kathleen Menake

School: Passaic Valley Regional High School, Little Falls, NJ
Grade: 11th and 12th
Principal: Raymond Rotella
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Scholarship Fund

Students in an elective called Contemporary Issues through Videoconferencing interact with their peers, experts and people from all over the world while discussing current events. To commemorate the anniversary of the attacks, the students engaged in a videoconference with people whose lives were deeply touched by 9/11. The goal of the course is for students to use technology for direct access to primary sources of information to expand the walls of the school and its library. The students are guided to develop reflective attitudes towards their personal values and the values of others.

Ms. Menake worked with the 9/11 Tribute Center to conduct two videoconferencing sessions with her students. The students maintain their reflections in a portfolio about the course on a Google site. Here is a quote from one of the student entries: “The stories of the two women who spoke to the class impacted us in a way that is not seen very often… We were all too little to realize what was going on that day… Speaking with people who survived… links the physical facts with an emotional depth that we empathize with as human beings…This video conference matured us as young adults… Learning more about this event helped stitch a bit more of the puzzling confounding ideas that exist in me and has expressed in words the nightmare that can be humanity. These women have rejuvenated my hope in it as they are brave enough to relive their past to educate us.”



Gregory Nacerino and Hugh Gallagher's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teachers: Gregory Nacerino and Hugh Gallagher

School: Washingtonville Middle School, Washingtonville, NY
Grade: 6th – 8th
Principal: Teresa Thompson
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Scholarship Fund

Washingtonville is located sixty miles from NYC, and was among the many suburbs that were directly impacted by the events of 9/11. Social studies teacher Gregory Nacerino and science teacher Hugh Gallagher collaborated together to engage their students in local acts of civic responsibility. Their mid-Hudson community lost 55 people, 5 of whom (FDNY and NYPD responders) were immediate neighbors. A local memorial had been created but, after years, it needed maintenance and attention. These two teachers inspired their students to begin an after-school program called the Washingtonville 9/11 Memorial Park Maintenance Club. This club now acts as the caretakers of this park. The club meets monthly for 6th – 8th grade. Students also learn about the history of September 11th and its impact today. Then they begin the one-mile walk to the park picking up trash and performing any other necessary maintenance, followed by a moment of silence at the monument.

On the anniversary of September 11th, Mr. Nacerino’s students each conduct an interview with their parents in which students not only learn about their own relatives’ memories of that day, but to remind the parents of the need to keep the memory alive.



Michael Scherer's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Michael Scherer

School: Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, Brooklyn NY
Grade: 9th – 12th
Principal: Steven DeMarco
Foundation: The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust

FDR High School has a commitment to discuss 9/11. Social studies AP teacher Sue Williamson focused several professional development sessions on this topic, as many of her teachers watched the towers collapse from their classrooms. Mr. Scherer has noticed that many of his students were not born in the U.S. and have no awareness of 9/11 at all. His lessons are devoted to bringing attention to the memory of 9/11 by focusing on how American values of civic virtue were experienced in the aftermath of 9/11, honoring the selfless behavior of those people who put the need of others before themselves. Beginning with the classic Roman story of Cincinnatus, students discuss if virtue exists in our society today? Students read newspaper articles to learn about many specific people in 9/11 history who put themselves in danger to help others. The focus on 9/11 also included an investigation of the facts: reasons for these attacks, related terrorists attacks, and U.S. response. Following this investigation, students were required to choose a project from the following: conduct their own oral history, write a current events article related to 9/11 about 1 World Trade, the FealGood Foundation, or the new national museum. Students could create a map of the tri-state area, showing places that have constructed memorials using pieces of World Trade Center steel.



Steven Seltz's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Steven Seltz

School: Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice, Brooklyn, NY
Grade: 12th
Principal: Suzette Dyer
Foundation: The Terence D. Gazzani 9/11 Scholarship Fund

Students in 12th grade Global Issues class research and debate how best to confront the issues of modern terrorism in a democratic society. The class engages in readings and debates materials adapted from the curriculum unit Responding to Terrorism: Challenges for Democracy created by the Choices Program of the Watson Center for International Studies at Brown University. Students are guided to recognize relationships between history and current issues with the goal of becoming responsible citizens. They identify and discuss the conflicting values and points of view that help shape history.

The project has gown out of many years of teaching students about the broad causes and effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By having students conduct research into Middle Eastern, European and American history, they can build a better understanding of the context of the 9/11 attacks, and are thus better able to engage in informed debate and discussion about the ongoing political and social challenges presented by the attacks. The goal is for students to talk about the challenges of terrorism particularly as it relates to the students’ lives as New Yorkers and for them to better confront the fears they might have in considering the problem.



Carolyn Williams-Foell's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Carolyn Williams-Foell

School: Shanley High School, Fargo, North Dakota
Grade: 10th and 12th
Principal: Ed Mitchell
Foundation: The Terry Farrell Firefighters Scholarship Fund

Ms. Williams-Foell begins each school year by acknowledging 9/11 and the acts of virtue demonstrated by both victims and survivors. Previously, her school did not have an in-depth curriculum reaching all students concerning the events of 9/11 and Ms. Williams-Foell made this a priority. Most students knew some basic facts, so they began to explore further. Students interviewed their parents and discovered that many local families had a personal connection to the attacks and that a graduate from their school died in the attacks of 9/11. Students gave oral reports on the findings of their interviews and then continued their journey as they researched, watched documentary films, analyzed oral histories and photographs, and discussed 9/11 poetry. Students constructed a timeline of events, completed a World Trade Center study guide that their teacher created, and wrote essays. The students discussed several essential questions about the facts related to the attacks, recovery, and rebuilding, as well as focused on the role of virtue as demonstrated by the survivors and the victims, and the sustaining role of faith. Students, school-wide, participated in a Day of Service at several local community sites and the entire school community culminated the experience with a formal period of reflection on the service experience.



Virginia Wolff's students' award-winning 9/11 related project for the 2013-2014 school year

Teacher: Virginia Wolff

School: High School of Economics and Finance, Lower Manhattan
Grade: 10th and 12th
Principal: Michael Stanzione
Foundation: The Family of Firefighter Michael D. Mullan

On 9/11/01, art teacher Virginia Wolff evacuated her students to safety, as her school is next to the World Trade Center. Annually she has a mission to guide her new students to comprehend how 9/11 has changed our American identity. Her four-part lesson begins as she shares her own vivid experience on 9/11, her feeling of vulnerability and shock and our shattered image of ourselves as invincible. After researching, in the second part of the project, students discuss outcomes, both positive and negative of 9/11 such as: more unity, less materialism; anti-Muslim racism, and increased nationalism. In the third lesson, students privately write about a time that they personally felt under attack and then respond to their own writing by creating a visual interpretation using color and line to express their feelings about being under attack. The final lesson involves a concluding discussion about how personal growth often accompanies trauma.

Students discuss how American identity and sense of community was changed forever and how they were in fact also changed and perhaps strengthened by their own personal sense of overcoming a feeling of being vulnerable or hurt. This lesson addresses the following Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA – Literacy RH 11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media



2012 – 2013 Awardees

Comments and awards were presented by Regent Kathleen Cashin of the New York State Education Department

  • Raymond Pultinas, DeWitt Clinton High School: Bronx, New York
  • Desiree LaFontaine, P.S. 49: Bronx, New York
  • Jessica Kuehn and Shari Bowes, Waverly Park School: East Rockaway, New York
  • Robert Sandler, Stuyvesant High School: Manhattan, New York
  • Lisa McGinn, Bay Trail Middle School: Penfield, New York
  • Lesley Ayers and Wendy Cox, Owens Intermediate School: Houston, Texas
  • Rachel Rowley, Jonathon Law High School: Milford, Connecticut
  • Craig Fabec, Chavez Huerta Preparatory Academy: Pueblo, Colorado

2011 – 2012 Awardees

Comments and awards were presented by Roger Tilles, State Education Department Regents Member

  • Elisa De Gregorio & Christine Mulholland, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Careers: New York, NY
  • Thomas Buxton & Roma Karas, William McKinley I.S. 259: Brooklyn, New York
  • Joe Golossi, Elysian Charter School: Hoboken, New Jersey
  • Courtney Ruggiero, Bedford Middle School: Westport, Connecticut
  • Nicholas Rivera & Nancy Scotto, Pelham Preparatory Academy: Bronx, New York
  • Melissa Katz, Mamaroneck High School: Mamaroneck, New York
  • Amy Ferriso, Eugenio Maria De Hostos Intermediate School 318: Brooklyn, New York
  • Katie LeCaptain, Prince of Peace School: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Craig Goldberg, MS 582: Brooklyn, New York
  • Chris Doyle, Watkinson School: Hartford, Connecticut

2010 – 2011 Awardees

Comments and awards were presented by Dr. Betty Rosa, State Education Department Regents Member

  • Evan Madin, Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School: Queens, New York
  • Mary Albarino, John S. Burke Catholic High School: Goshen, New York
  • Michelle Mastrande, Great Neck North Middle School: Great Neck, New York
  • Kelly O’Connor-Iacobaccio, Rondout Valley School: Accord, New York
  • Jill Schechter, Woodhome Elementary Middle School: Baltimore, Maryland

2009 – 2010 Awardees

Comments and awards were presented by Dr. Christine Cea, State Education Department Regents Member

  • Susan Linder, Lynbrook School District: Lynbrook, New York
  • Erin Boughton, Our Lady of the Hamptons School: Southampton, New York
  • Chris Ougheltree, Cranston High School East: Cranston, Rhode Island
  • Robert Orlando, High School of Computer and Technology: Bronx, New York
  • Mark Otto, The Facing History School: New York, New York

2008 – 2009 Awardees

Comments and awards were presented by Jeffrey Cannell, State Education Department Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education

  • Aaden Stern and Courtney Winkfield, Academy for Young Writers: Brooklyn, New York
  • Noriko Koide, Valley Stream High School & Lynbrook High School: Long Island, New York
  • Jamie Ellinger, Northside College Preparatory High School: Chicago, Illinois
  • Michael Chrvala, Shiloh Middle School: Hampstead, Maryland

2007 – 2008 Awardees

Comments and awards were presented by James Diaz, Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning in the NYC Department of Education

  • Les Klein, PS 5: New York, New York
  • Linda Sedda, PS/IS: Brooklyn, New York
  • Gregg Breinberg, Jeanne Koleniak-Burns & Leslie Johnson, PS 22: Staten Island, New York
  • Dan Fielding, High School for Leadership and Public Service: New York, New York
  • Todd Peterson, Barron Collier High School: Naples, Florida
  • Keiko Wada, Wada School of Kumon Method: Shizouka City, Japan