Selected Award-Winning Projects
Each year, the 9/11 Tribute Center honors teachers who create exemplary educational projects that help students understand the impact of 9/11.
This selection of award-winning projects highlight the meaningful ways that teachers have found, over the years, to integrate the study of 9/11 into a range of curriculum areas. This sampling of winning projects illustrate how teachers can commemorate 9/11 by connecting to a wide range of subject areas that are taught through out the year, and not just on 9/11.
An Integrated Approach to the Study of 9/11
Rachel Rowley from Jonathan Law High School, Milford, Connecticut inspired her district to develop an integrated curriculum for students in grades 6 – 12. After extensive district-wide collaboration the team developed a comprehensive program. The curriculum begins in 6th grade students explore the use of oral histories as it pertains to 9/11. In 7th grade students learn about the victims of 9/11 through geography based activities. In 8th grade students examine the actual events of the day, and guest speakers are incorporated into the conclusion of the middle school program. At the high school level in 9th and 10th grade students study terrorism and extremism; and 11th graders explore the response to 9/11 both globally, nationally and civically. With each year building upon the last, 12th graders culminate their learning of 9/11 by creating an independent study action project.
Language Arts and Oral Histories
In 2010, Erin Boughton, a computer/technology teacher, at Our Lady of the Hamptons School, Southampton, N.Y., engaged her eighth grade students in reflective writing, research, and conducting oral histories. Each student participated in writing assignments that included original research, conducting oral histories, interpretation and synthesis of ideas. Students interviewed firefighters, police officers, office workers, stockbrokers, electricians, teachers and many others. The librarian involved students in conducting their own research and inspired the use of utilizing newspapers, photographs, books, personal stories, websites and films. Students published their oral histories and personal reflections. After many editing rounds, the students published a book entitled, “Two Planes, Two Buildings, One Nation.” The art teacher collaborated with students to create a powerful book cover.
Teacher Courtney Ruggiero of Bedford Middle School, Westport, Connecticut, was surprised that 8th students knew very little about 9/11. She engaged the students to conduct oral histories with their parents and they discovered how close to home this tragedy really was. The loss of a member of their community led to a larger interest in tragedy and recovery. Ms. Ruggiero sensitively led students to study this aspect of 9/11 along with other international tragedies; learning how communities recover by coming together. This idea resonated with the students and inspired them to initiate service projects, including “Spirit of Service” to support their local EMS.
In 2011, Evan Madin, a journalism teacher at Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School, Jamaica NY, explored 9/11 as a way to motivate students to understand media and the power and art of the written word. Through a series of coordinated exercises, his students analyzed the press beginning on 9/12/01. Students explored opinion versus fact, and examined how specific words shaped the tone of an article. Students conducted original research and student polls about how 9/11 impacted their own school community.
Building Community, Remembrance and Civic Engagement
In 2010, elementary school science teacher, Susan Lindner, from Waverly Park School in Lynbrook School District, Long Island NY, was motivated to do something in her own community to memorialize those lost. As she teaches the life-cycle of plants, she sought out a way to build a memorial garden. She found an underutilized overgrown area in the schoolyard, right in the view of her second floor science classroom. The students planted a garden that blooms in September and students painted the back wall with a mural of the skyline of Manhattan that includes the twin towers. Every year on 9/11, the school gathers here to remember and share patriotic reflection. “
In 2011 Kelley O’Connor-Iacobaccio, an 8th grade teacher from Rondout Valley Central School, Ulster County, NY, involved 17 other teachers in her school district to work with her to create a school-wide event, involving older students to participate in a community service project educating younger students about the humanitarian side of 9/11. Older students created individual research projects and used these projects to build an “interactive museum”. Younger students were invited to discuss these issues together and participate in a creative project. “What does courage look like?” was a central theme and children were invited to write their own books about a heroic act of people helping each other on 9/11. The picture book by Maira Kalman, Fireboat: the Heroic Adventures of the John J Harvey, was central to the day. A highlight event was when the actual Fireboat, the John J Harvey made a visit to their community.
Visual, Performing and Media Arts
In 2012, Tom Buxton and Roma Karas taught language arts and visual arts in Brooklyn, N.Y. at IS 259. Together they inspired their students to create elaborate painted murals throughout the halls of their schools. The murals were dedicated to the experiences of September 11th. For these students, 9/11 history and classic literature meet through art. Middle school students learned to apply various literary themes and concepts in Greek mythology to the 9/11 stories they learned. This permanent project allowed the students leave a legacy of empathy for future students.
Performing and Media Arts
Teachers Gregg Breinberg, Jeanne Koleniak-Burns and Leslie Johnson in 2007 taught at PS 22 in Staten Island, NY. Having realized that many students have birthdays on 9/11, they decided to engage students in ways to both express their emotions about 9/11 as well as reclaim it as a day that is not just a day of tragedy. Students researched many other historic events that took place in NY on 9/11 throughout the centuries and discovered that even a Staten Island Peace Conference was held in Staten Island on September 11, 1776. Students conducted research, wrote scripts, acted and filmed the many wondrous local things that have taken place on September 11th.
Local New York History
Robert Sandler’s twelfth grade New York City History class from Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan, incorporated the study of the World Trade Center and the events of 9/11 into the broader context of New York’s history. Over six lessons, students utilized literature, film, oral histories, and class discussions to explore the significance of the twin towers in the architectural culture of NY, the facts and impact of 9/11, and our changing appreciation for first responders. Students compared this historic disaster to other NYC disasters, examined how history is recorded, memorialized, and remembered, and considered how these historic events with be understood by future generations of New Yorkers.