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How are schools teaching young students about 9/11?

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and schools in our area took time Friday to commemorate the day.

But how are schools teaching little ones about the tragic events of that day?

Teachers say they walk a fine line between talking about September 11, 2001, and also protecting their students’ innocence.

But one Pleasant Grove librarian was able to find a delicate balance.

Meredith Hornsby adapted her lesson about 9/11 to be age-appropriate for 1st graders.

“I feel like our students have been through a lot in the last two years, and so, instead of focusing as much on the tragedy, I wanted to focus on the hope,” Hornsby said.

She decided to look inward remembering how she felt on that day 20 years ago.

“I was a senior in high school when the September 11th attacks happened, and so I was in school, and I remember being scared. So, the easiest way I could relate that to my students was to ask them about times when they’ve been scared,” Hornsby explained.

She put together a lesson remembering some famous advice from one of her childhood heroes, Mr. Rogers.

“So, we talked about looking for helpers and looking for the heroes in any difficult spot and I wanted to focus on the best ways to get through a difficult situation,” Hornsby said.

Ms. Hornsby said she was able to speak more candidly about the tragic events that took place on 9/11 with her older students but kept the conversation light with her first graders.

“Our younger students will eventually learn about all of the tragedies of that day. It’s just not appropriate at the moment. If we go ahead and start now with teaching them to look for the helpers and the heroes, then when we start looking at things that are scarier, it may not be as difficult for them to process,” Hornsby said.

Ms. Hornsby’s students left the library knowing that firefighters, police officers, doctors and first responders are the heroes they should look for if they ever find themselves in a scary situation.

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