INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For those old enough to live through it, September 11, 2001 is a day that will never be forgotten. But for children born after 2001, it can be hard to understand the day’s importance.
Teachers at Chapel Glen Elementary School say they try to get students to connect with the day’s significance through the help of empathy and messages of positivity.
Sixth grade teacher Lorissa Vanden Hoogen says she tries to get kids to connect through reading firsthand accounts from those who were in New York on 9/11. She then engages them in exercises where she asks them to understand or try to relate to how the people felt.
“If you can really capture and understand those feelings, then they understand how other people felt at that time, taking on the people’s feelings as well as their own,” she said.
Another key teaching point that Vanden Hoogen says she uses is by focusing on the efforts of the first responders and other volunteers who ran towards the towers and worked to rescue as many people as they could. Vanden Hoogen believes the stories of heroism and the moments of unity that followed 9/11 are themes that her students can be inspired by and gravitate towards.
“When we have these hard times and difficult times there are always good people that rise from these ashes both literally and metaphorically, and looking at the good that can always come out of a bad situation.”
At the end of the day, Vanden Hoogen along with the teachers and staff of Chapel Glen say it would be impossible for students so young to understand the implications of everything that happened on 9/11 so they don’t even try to explain them. However, they believe if they can teach the students the importance of why we remember, then it will become easier for them to never forget.