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Mamaroneck Teacher Helps Students Understand 9/11

MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Mamaroneck High School's Melissa Katz was one of 10 social studies teachers nationwide recently recognized at the fifth annual Sept. 11 Teacher Awards ceremony for helping her students make connections with a tragedy they were too young to understand.

“I was honored to be representing my entire social studies department, which collaborated on this lesson. It was very humbling to receive this award a few feet from the twin towers,” said Katz, who said she later toured the memorial pools.

The awards, presented by the The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust on the site of the twin towers, honor teachers who keep the memory of Sept. 11 alive by guiding students to understand its historical impact.

“As educators, we strive to bring history alive in the classroom,” said Katz, who pointed out that most of her students were 6 and 7 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. “We want students to make real connections, to be active citizens and to have concern for others. Sept. 11 is an integral part of our nation’s history and one that has a lasting place in our classrooms.”

All of Mamaroneck’s social studies teachers helped develop a lesson plan that explores the topic of memory in the classroom. Students were tasked with interviewing their parents about their memories of that day, and then created visual collages revealing what they learned.

“They all were thought-provoking, raw and real,” Katz said. “The real-life anecdotes and the powerful imagery that these collages and interviews provided have a lasting impact.”

Many students, Katz said, felt more “adult” after having these conversations in class and with their parents.

“We all have stories about where we were, what we saw, what we felt,” Katz said in her acceptance speech. “We are given too few opportunities to talk about our stories and for others to listen.”

Elizabeth Clain, principal of Mamaroneck High School and former social studies department chairperson, attended the special ceremony with Katz.

“It’s an enormous honor to have Mamaroneck High School recognized in this way,” Clain said.

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