Teachers Struggle with Lessons on 9-11

Sep 8, 2011

Shannon Maddox first heard the news through a phone call from a colleague.  A plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York City. She immediately turned the television on in her Crittenden Mt. Zion Elementary classroom. It wasn’t long after that teachers were told to keep their students in their classrooms and no one was allowed to go outside.

“I remember watching live footage, listening to Dan Rather talk about the first plane and while he was live on the air, we watched in shock as a second plane flew in and hit the other tower,” Maddox said. “Then, after a few minutes, we watched as the second tower crumbled, then the first tower. It was surreal. It felt like we were watching a movie.”

“I tried to explain to the kids that there were thousands of people who just lost their lives right before our eyes,” she said.
To her 10-year-old students, Maddox said the events did not seem real.

The class held a moment of silence for the victims who lost their lives.

No academics was accomplished that school day as word spread that another plane had flown into the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

The day was a blur, said Maddox.

Some parents picked their children up from school to make sure they were safe.

“There was definitely a sense of fear and uncertainty and I think parents just wanted their kids close,” Maddox said. “I can remember clearly the room I was in and the students that were there that day, even after 10 years. I teach Social Studies and I continue to teach about the 9-11 every year. It was without a doubt a day that I will never forget. It’s hard to believe that it has already been a decade. The shock and sadness of what happened that day is still hard to think about.”

A fellow teacher at Grant County High School told Amy Robinson about the attacks.

Like many others, she rushed to the television in her classroom to get the latest news.

Robinson said she was in “total shock.”

She found it easier at a high school level to talk to the students about the tragedy.

“I had juniors so they were more receptive to watching and discussing what was going on,” she said. “The one question most asked was, ‘Why?’” Robinson said. “We tried to analyze who would have done this and what did we do to deserve this. I did have a few that was upset because they had family that worked at the Pentagon and they were worried about them.”

The TV stayed on all day and the students were glued to it.
Robinson said she remembered driving home from school that afternoon with a low tank of gas.

However, she could not stop at a gas station because people were flooding them out of concern of shortages and price increases.

Shortly after 9-11, Robinson went on a trip that brought back the memories of that day vividly.

“A group of us went to Las Vegas exactly one month after 9-11 and when we walked past New York, New York Hotel, there were flowers and gifts in front of the hotel. All along the hotel and down the sidewalk no one spoke. It was very eerie.”

Williamstown Elementary fifth-grade teacher Trish Merritt saw the devastating images of 9-11 as she walked into the front office that morning.

At first, she thought it was just a horrible crash.

Soon, Merritt learned the truth.

“When I discovered it was a terrorist attack, chills went down my spine,” she said. “It was total disbelief that someone could actually fly a plane into the side of a building “

Merritt was teaching middle school students in sixth grade, and she felt they were mature enough to handle the news.
She told the class the truth about what had happened before saying a silent prayer.

“I think the students were a little scared, but more concerned about what was going to happen next,” Merritt said. “Would something happen in Williamstown, Ky.?”