W. MI educators reflect, teach students about 9/11

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Saturday marks 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001, a day that changed the United States forever.

In an effort to reflect on the day and never forget, schools in West Michigan are making sure their students know what happened.

Many people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on 9/11. But for the students now in high school, they weren’t even born yet.

Spanish teacher Yanett Gardner hopes she can teach her students lessons that will stick with them.

She says the day also affected her family personally.

“She was running late that day, and she’s never late,” said Gardner.

Gardner says on 9/11, her sister was heading to work in New York City.

“She was one of those people walking across the Washington Bridge, full of ashes. It was very intense for our family. We come from a military family as well and we knew what that meant,” said Gardner.

Gardner and social studies curriculum supervisor Mulonge Kalumbula say they want to make sure their students comprehend how the day changed everything.

“One of the things that a lot of people, a lot of educators want to do is shield our students from drama or fear, but it is essential that they know, that they understand,” said Gardner.

“That one event changed our whole world. Wherever you are, the impact of 9/11 is felt globally,” said Kalumbula.

James Johnson, a history teacher for Kalamazoo Public Schools, says he teaches his students about the day by first providing background.

“With any history instruction, I think it’s important to start with context. Looking at things like news footage from the day, interviews with people, and then we talk about how it led to things like the war on terror,” said Johnson.

These educators hope their students take home a deeper meaning about what 9/11 truly meant for the United States.

“That people are willing to stand up for what was right, and that’s what I want them to do, stand up for what is right,” said Gardner.

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