University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut



Cohort at Mystic Seaport


Cohort 2016′





Team Social Studies Creates Interactive Museum Exhibit

Innovative Exhibits Provide Insights Into Museum Curating, Weather’s Impact on WWII



Recent Neag graduate, Joe Williamson, shares his insights on how he developed the historic content for the museum display.

Neag School of Education history education faculty and students are responsible for two innovative exhibits currently on display in two parts of the state: “Behind the Scenes: Museum Footnotes” at the Fairfield Museum and History Center and “Snow, Sand, & Strategy: The Impact of Weather & Geography on WWII” at the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History on UConn’s Storrs campus.

Designed to encourage viewers to explore and critically consider how items are chosen by museums to tell a story, “Behind the Scenes: Museum Footnotes” provides embedded footnotes for 14 of the items featured in the Fairfield Museum’s “Creating Community: Exploring 375 Years of Our Past.” Accessed through a QR code scanned with a smartphone, the footnotes include not just an explanation of how and why the objects were chosen, but a series of interactive questions. For those who don’t have smartphones, paper copies of the footnotes and questions are available.

Neag Associate Professor Alan Marcus, author of “Teaching History with Museums: Strategies for K-12 Social Studies” among other similar works, believes the exhibit represents the first partnership of its kind between museum staff and educators in the U.S.

“One of the many important skills we need to teach students is how to evaluate sources and the trustworthiness of the information they’re receiving,” said Marcus, who spearheaded the project with Fairfield Museum Education Director Christine Jewell. “Like historic films, museum exhibits provide a view into the past, but we need to remember that when we view these works, we’re seeing not ‘the’ view of the past, but ‘a’ view of the past. Like moviemakers make decisions on how to best to bring historic events like slavery and the Civil War to life on the screen, museum curators make decisions about what items to include, what items to put up front and highlight, and what items to not include at all.”

The Museum Footnotes project makes this process transparent, Marcus continued, encouraging students, especially, to consider how curators constructed the past they’re viewing. The interactive questions also encourage and allow students to take a more active role in their learning.

Data captured will allow Marcus and the Neag students who’ve been working with him on this project to examine—and, ideally, better understand—how students used their smartphones as part of the learning process. These Neag students include Department of Educational Psychology doctoral student Jennifer Kowitt and master’s student Michael Stroneski, who’s training to teach social studies.

An addition benefit is that teachers who bring classes to visit can receive a follow-up email from the museum that shows students’ responses to the smartphone questions.

Neag alumnus Ashley Sullivan, who teaches history at Ridgefield HS, used her smartphone to review the footnotes while attending a special preview with fellow Neag history education majors at the Fairfield Museum.

Having students use their phones as part of the school day requires, in most school systems, advance parent permission slips and instructions on how to download free QR code scanning apps. But the potential results, Marcus believes, is well worth the effort.

“Kids love their phones, so why not use them as part of learning, when they can be used so effectively?” Marcus said. “Smartphones use will allow us to capture students’ real-time reactions to what they’re taking in. Teachers can then use that collected data have rich follow-up conversations in the classroom.”

Jewell continued:”This kind of critical thinking and inquiry is at the heart of common core standards and makes this exhibit a real learning opportunity. The footnotes provide an important, added dimension, showing how finances, politics, societal pressure, personal preference and other factors influenced the final product. They show that an educational exhibit may not necessarily be an objective one.”

Marcus said he hopes the success of the Neag-Fairfield Museum partnership will encourage similar collaborations.

“Snow, Sand & Strategy: The Impact of Weather & Geography on WWII” also includes footnotes.

Created by students in the Neag School’s history teacher education program in collaboration with staff from the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, the exhibit explores the role weather and geography played in World War II military strategy and battle outcomes, as well as how it impacted civilians. Military leaders worked hard not just to limit the challenges geography and weather caused, but to take advantage of them.

“The exhibition is the culmination of three years of effort by the students to explore WWII from multiple perspectives and to study museum education,” said Marcus, who served as faculty advisor for the project. “The students visited WWII sites and museums in Europe, participated in workshops with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and took related coursework. This exhibit is an expression of their growth and development as historians and teachers.”

Divided into seven display panels, each section is anchored by a guiding question detailing a specific aspect of the war. Students worked with museum staff member Collin Harty, who oversees exhibit and communication design. “Collaboration with Connecticut State Museum of Natural History staff provided a wonderful learning experience for the students,” Marcus added. “They received hands-on training that enhanced their understanding of how museum staff create exhibitions and helped them think about how to use, and collaborate with, museums in their future roles as history teachers.”

The Connecticut Museum of Natural History also helped fund the Fairfield “Behind the Scenes: Museum Footnotes” project.

“We’re hoping that one of the results of these efforts is that they change the way people approach museums and make them part of their curriculums,” Marcus said.

For more information about “Snow, Sand, & Strategy: The Impact of Weather & Geography on WWII,” visit or call (860) 486-4460. The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm.

For more information about “Behind the Scenes: Museum Footnotes” and “Creating Community: Exploring 375 Years of Our Past,” visit or call (203) 259-1598. The Fairfield Museum and History Center is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm.


Student Today, Leader Tomorrow, Teacher Forever

Neag School Undergrad Student Leader Believes in Community Involvement and Giving Back

by: Melody Li

September 2013 1,167 views

Justis lead pixSenior Justis Lopez expected the Neag School of Education to show him how to become a social studies teacher. He did not expect it to shape him into a leader.

“One of the many things I’ve learned is how important it is to learn about yourself and find your own identity—how  important it is to know what you can bring to the table to impact the world,” Lopez said.

A Manchester, CT native, Lopez’s transformative journey began in 2010 when, as a freshman, he became a member of the Leadership Learning Community, one of 17 undergraduate learning programs run by Student Support Services that allow those with similar interests to live and take classes together, as well as to take part in group team-building activities, community service and other projects.

It was in this community, Lopez said, that he began to more clearly see his talents and potential. Among other abilities, he learned he was a strong and energetic program organizer, as well as a comfortable public speaker. Indeed, he became the first-ever freshman to serve as master of ceremonies of the Asian Nite event that packs the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts with students, parents, friends and others—an experience Lopez remembers as “thrilling.”

Justis sub pixSince then, Lopez has emceed, organized and hosted a variety of other events, including various Learning Community kick-offs and campus-wide talent shows, homecomings, lip syncs and poetry slams.  His involvement in the Leadership Learning Community and UConn overall only deepened when he became a residential assistant and began the dual work of helping new students adjust to college life  and creating student leadership programs. The latter allowed him to work with many within the larger community, including ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen.

“All of my roles at UConn helped shaped who I am today, whether being a student, a mentor, an emcee or a residential assistant,” said Lopez, who spent part of this past summer in Europe as part of UConn’s Global Educators Study Abroad program that provides students with a first-hand account of how Europeans experienced World War II. It included time in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, where among other sites they visited Nazi headquarters.

According to Neag Associate Professor Alan Marcus, trip organizer and one of Justis’ favorite professors, “On our trip to Europe to visit WWII historic sites and museums Justis started each day with the words ‘I can’t believe we are here, I can’t believe I’m standing where …’   He was like a sponge absorbing new ideas and new perspectives.”

“The trip provided Justis with the opportunity to see historic events from a more global perspective which he is now using to be a more effective social studies teacher,” continued Marcus.

The first member of his family to attend college, Lopez’s dedication to service and excellence led to him being selected for the Leadership Legacy Experience, a year-long enhancement program that allows 14 exceptional students to build on their college experiences and prepare to become lifelong leaders.

Marcus is impressed with how Justis has become one of the most dynamic student leaders on campus. “He not only leads by running events and enthusiastically participating in activities, he leads by modeling. He is also a good listener and is open to ideas and perspectives.”

“He is a transformational leader in that he provides leadership that improves the lives of others, but also modifies his ideas and actions in response to others’ needs and feedback,” said Marcus.

“I’m so thankful to everyone who helped me get where I am today,” said Lopez, adding that he’s looking forward to the day when he can give students some of the same opportunities he received. “I’m excited to become a teacher.”

Class of 2013: Joseph Williamson, Future Social Studies Teacher

This article is part of a series featuring some of this year’s outstanding graduating students, nominated by their academic school or college or another University program in which they participated. Check for additional profiles of students in the Class of 2013 on UConn Today from now through Commencement.

Joe Williamson '13 (ED). (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)It’s not much of a stretch to say Joe Williamson was born to be a teacher.

His mother, grandmother, and grandfather were all teachers. And even as a teen at Greenwich High School, he spent much of his free time helping and nurturing others. He volunteered as a music camp counselor, interned at a middle school, and spent much of his senior year teaching underclassmen the practical and interpersonal skills needed to publish Greenwich High’s yearbook, of which he was the editor.

Almost as natural were his decisions to apply to UConn’s Neag School of Education and focus his coursework for the Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Teacher Preparation Program on social studies.

“My mother is a Neag graduate, and social studies has always been my favorite subject,” says Williamson. “I’ve been reading history books and biographies for as long as I’ve been able to read.”


Joe Williamson ’13 (ED). (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Williamson, who graduates with his bachelor’s degree in education this May and will study for his master’s degree next year, has made the most of both the academic and the extracurricular activities offered at UConn. In addition to being on the dean’s list, he is a four-year member of UConn’s Marching and Pep bands.

“Not every university gives education students the kinds of opportunities that Neag students receive,” he says.

Since September, he has been student teaching at Edwin O. Smith High School in Storrs. “This semester, I’ve worked full-time as a teacher, creating lessons, teaching them, and working alongside master educators who provide critiques and guidance that will only make me stronger and better in the future. All of the education I’ve received has been great, but the student teaching experience has made all the difference, as it’s given me the chance to bring the lessons I’ve learned from my professors to life.”

That idea of bringing lessons to life and making learning real, is something Williamson not just appreciates, but works to achieve when he’s at the head of the classroom. A Connecticut history buff, he made learning about Mansfield-area history one of his priorities when he arrived at Storrs as a freshman, and now incorporates it into his social studies lessons.

Because of this, the E.O. Smith freshmen and juniors he teaches now know that the Eagle Manufacturing Company on South Eagleville Road produced rifle parts during the Civil War, and that Mansfield was once the silk-making capital of America.

“When you’re teaching students who like social studies, it doesn’t matter as much whether you’re a good teacher or a terrible teacher, because they’re going to be interested. What I’m working to do is create lessons for the kids who don’t like history – to get them excited and engaged, and to make the learning experience interesting and meaningful for them,” Williamson says. “I try to connect the past to the present, and to show how history is part of what they experience every day.”

Williamson credits his Neag professors for not just telling him what it takes to succeed as an educator, but showing him as well: “Neag professors are role models. Their lessons are creative, interesting, and serve as great examples of effective teaching. I’m confident that because of the education I received at UConn, there will be a job for me when I graduate, and I’ll be well-prepared to succeed at it.”

Neag and History Professors Collaborate on “Teaching History with Museums” Book

by: Lauren Cardarelli

March 2012 3,962 views

Museums provide students with opportunities and resources not available in the classroom. Through the physical participation of seeing, feeling, touching and overall experiencing the past, field trips to these sites and their corresponding lesson plans are crucial for successful learning in youth.

UConn’s Alan Marcus, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Neag School of Education, and Walter Woodward, Ph.D., associate professor of history and Connecticut state historian, believe museums promote a sophisticated understanding of social studies and facilitate the development of critical thinking habits and literacy skills not easily replicated in the classroom.

Dr. Marcus, Dr. Woodward and co-author Jeremy D. Stoddard, a Spears Distinguished Associate Professor of Education at the College of William and Mary, integrated their history orientations and education perspectives in the new book, Teaching History with Museums.

It is the authors’ hope that their text will encourage teachers to design more effective museum visits with a fueling of collaboration between teachers and museum educators.

“The museum education experience is very different from teaching history in a classroom,” says Dr. Woodward. “Helping teachers and museum educators understand the differences between the two, so they can collaborate to give students a richer and more meaningful understanding of how history affects their lives, seemed awfully important.”

Dr. Marcus and Dr. Woodward believe that by bridging this gap and providing both groups of educators with the proper skills, students will become more analytical consumers and improved citizens in a democracy.

“[We] wrote the book to support teachers, pre-service teachers and museum professionals, and to help develop effective and engaging activities for student visits to museums and/or using museum resources,” says Dr. Marcus. “The book provides a theoretical framework for using museums to develop students’ historical understanding, as well as the importance of using museums more broadly. It also presents a series of case studies of teachers taking students to museums.”

The text introduces the importance, power and potential for historical knowledge of different types of museums. Each serve various purposes in learning. Chapters in the book are devoted to artifact, display and living history museums, as well as to historic homes, monuments, memorials and forts.

The book is grounded in well-established theory and research in history education, providing practical strategies for teachers and museum professionals alike.

“The activities presented are representative of key issues with each type of museum, so there are core concepts that can be applied to other living-history museums or other historic forts,” says Dr. Marcus.

Teaching History with Museums has not only lead to a collaboration between the two UConn departments, but to a partnership with one of the book’s case studies, the Mark Twain House and Museum.

The partnership includes pre-service history teachers interning at the Twain House, a Neag Social Studies Alumni Event in April and an upcoming free book talk, “What Role Can Museums Play in Educational Reforms in Connecticut.”

Nine students are currently interning at the Twain House, where they are being trained as exhibit guides. The experience prepares these pre-service teachers to develop curriculums and outreach for schools, as well as to create pre-visit activities for museum visitors.

In addition, Dr. Marcus is working on the development of a research study with a professor at the University of Nottingham in England to look at how students learn from museums, particularly those related to World War II and the Holocaust. The affiliation will entail collaborative work between pre-service history teachers at both universities.

Dr. Marcus hopes  this work will eventually expand to faculty in England, Japan and Germany to analyze how students learn about World War II from museums in these locations, especially given the potential for different perspectives.

Drs. Marcus and Woodward are also now in discussions with the Connecticut Humanities Council about hosting a workshop for teachers and museum educators. This summer, they hope to have a book talk in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Smithsonian Museum. Both professors will be co-teaching a course on museum education in the coming academic year.

Dr. Marcus’ primary areas of scholarship focus on the use of film and museums to teach history. He has written numerous articles and books, including Teaching History with Film: Strategies for Secondary Social Studies and Celluloid Blackboard: Teaching History with Film. In addition, Dr. Marcus teaches a course called “Teaching History with Films and Museums,” which includes a two-week trip to Europe.

The “What Role Can Museums Play in Educational Reforms in Connecticut” book talk at the Mark Twain House and Museum will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on March 27. Admission is free and includes a formal presentation, question and answer period, book signing, refreshments and a sneak preview of the “Race, Rage & Redemption” exhibition.

Attendees will also receive two free Mark Twain House tour passes. Reservations can be requested at (860) 280-3146 or

Study Abroad in the News


Neag Professor Leads European Embarkment on World War II Studies


by: Lauren Cardarelli


September 2011 3,412 views No Comments


Neag students show their excitement to be in Paris.

Neag Students Show their excitement to be in Paris. Photo credit: Alan Marcus

This past May, Neag School of Education faculty member, Alan Marcus, paid tribute to the school’s mission of embracing worldwide diversity by leading a global leader study abroad program as part of a course titled: “Teaching World War II: Multiple Perspectives on the War in Europe.”

The two-week program was designed to immerse students into rich historical and culture experiences, enhance their understanding of international perspectives and facilitate productive teaching strategies for their professional lives. The trip established a foundation for the exploration of teaching history through film and museums, a course the students are enrolled in for this fall.

The Secondary Social Studies Program invited graduating seniors and fifth year integrated bachelor’s/master’s students with concentrations in history to embark on the Western European trip. Dr. David Moss, associate professor in the Neag School of Education, also accompanied the students.

“I learned how to be a culturally aware, sensitive and curious,” said Gabrielle Lataille. “Nothing is free of bias and there are always more questions, details and perspectives that need to be explored…The same event can be interpreted and analyzed in thousands of different ways, depending on who you are, where you live and your surrounding influences and interests.”

The summer experience enabled students to visit historical sites and museums in Great Britain, France and Holland where they investigated the different European perspectives of WWII. The students looked at the museums’ different narratives, interviewed museum staff and critically evaluated historic films to better grasp the war’s impact on global affairs.

“The European perspective of the war is very different from the American perspective,” explained Michael Stroneski. “Americans tend to focus on the battles, the statistics of the war and strategy and machinery. Europeans focus on the humanity of the war. By that I mean they look at the effect the war had on soldiers, families, children and everybody in between. It seems to be more about understanding ‘why’ rather than ‘how.’”

The trip abroad was an eye-opening experience for the 15 Neag student participants, providing them more insight than textbooks or online sources could deliver. Collectively, the travelers attest that their acquired personal anecdotes will be the most powerful classroom reference.

“Passion and the potential for passion in what you teach is the single most incredible tool teachers have in their tool box. Teachers have to bring what they love into the classroom because that honestly is something that students truly do latch on to,” said Adam Nemeroff.

For the students, visiting the WWII sites manifested an appreciation of history, further developing their overall cultural understanding of information and education, alike. For Lataille, it was physically setting foot in Anne Frank’s home where her senses of history and reality aligned.

“After reading the Diary of Anne Frank, I was both in love with the main character and devastated with the outcome of her story. However, it was the actual presence at the house in which she hid for two years that left me with the deep feeling of historical empathy,” she said. “I was able to feel and touch the place in which she experienced love, hope and suffering throughout WWII and the Holocaust, and immediately preceding her tragic torment and death at the concentration camps.”

This particular international experience, alongside other Neag student scholarship and faculty, has been made possible thanks to the generous financial support of Robert E. (M.A. ’51 Ph.D. ’55)  and Gladys Dunn. The couple, who has devoted their lives to serve their passion for international studies, granted $100,000 to Neag to assist study and travel abroad for educational development. Some of these funds supported students participating in Marcus’ program.

“Over the years we have had opportunities to travel to all corners of the globe and realize how broadening our experiences have been. The many friendships and memories have enriched our lives, and we think of them every day. Our scholarship is intended to afford Neag students the chance to see first hand what is out there in this amazing world beyond U.S. shores,” said Mrs. Dunn.

Whether their favorite part of the experience was standing on the beaches of Normandy or picnicking in front of the shimmering Eiffel Tower, the trip had an enormous impact on the Neag students.

“We were invited to meet and hear a few of them,” Mr. Dunn said. “It was clear from their remarks that the outcomes that they experienced made as much of an impact on them as we felt. Their backgrounds of mutual understanding and respect earn them the role of citizens of the world who contribute to peace. They are unofficial ambassadors of good will.”

According to Marcus, the trip will change how his students will teach WWII by affecting their approach to teaching empathy across all topics, incorporating their own lessons along the way.  To further reinforce the goals of the course, the students will participate in a follow-up journey to Washington D.C. where they will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the WWII Memorial, and the National Archives.

“I am optimistic that as teachers they will include field trip experience in the curriculum for their own students and will design effective activities for these trips,” said Marcus. “They certainly understand the power of a successful field trip.”

“This trip opened my eyes, my heart, and my head to so much about the world, education, history, learning, memory, the future, people, diversity, and even happiness. I was challenged in ways I never have been before and I experienced what most do not get to experience in a lifetime,” said Meaghan Davis. “I was constantly learning, thinking, and asking questions. I reflected on this trip as a student, as a future teacher, as an American, as a 21-year-old, as a woman, as a history dork, as a human being and more.”

For more information on “Teaching World War II: Multiple Perspectives on the War in Europe,” contact Professor Marcus at


Teaching 9/11

Teaching The Meaning Of 9/11

In Classrooms, Students Learn Not Only What Happened, But Also Why

By KATHLEEN MEGAN, kathy.megan@courant.comThe Hartford Courant4:57 p.m. EDT, September 10, 2011

Crafting lessons about the 9/11 attacks has evolved over the years from the days of dealing with shock and horror to understanding the day as a historic turning point.

The class is solemn as the recording plays: Brian Sweeney, a passenger on United Flight 175, leaves a voicemail message for his wife minutes before the plane crashes into the World Trade Center’s south tower.
“Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked,” Sweeney said. “If things don’t go well, it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you.”

Many of the students, juniors at Bristol Central High School, don’t remember ever hearing the recording. A decade ago, they were only 6, and their memories of the Sept. 11 attacks — if they have any at all — are muddled.

For some, this recording and others, which they listened to Friday in their U.S. history class, made the attacks more vivid than ever before.

“Actually hearing people’s voices,” said Alex Mandela, a 16-year-old junior, “I was left speechless.”

For students like Alex, the Sept. 11 attacks are a murky blend of personal recollection and history lesson; for younger students who were toddlers at the time or not yet born, they are simply history.

Crafting lessons about the attacks has evolved over the years from the days of dealing with shock and horror to understanding Sept. 11 as a historic turning point. And in teaching about 9/11, teachers also have had to navigate highly charged topics, including religion, politics and patriotism.

Like many students his age, Alex’s memory of the date is more about the change in his normal routine than about the attacks. His mother picked him up from school, which puzzled him, he recalls, because he usually went to day care.

He knew something was up, but he didn’t know what. As he got older, he began to piece it together.

“You know those old stories, about how grandparents talk about, ‘When I was a kid’ — that’s kind of how it feels,” Alex said. “More like a history story than an actual, personal experience.”

Memorializing, Analyzing

In the first few years following 2001, schools addressed the events largely by memorializing them, said UConn Professor Alan Marcus, who studies how to teach controversial issues.

At Glastonbury High School, history teacher Steve Marino recalls that in the school’s current events class, “We were doing therapy with the kids. We were doing therapy with ourselves, like after any traumatic experience. … They were scared and curious.”

But since then, Marino said, the curriculum has evolved to include not only what happened, but why, and the ensuing repercussions, including the Patriot Act, heightened airline security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

UConn’s Marcus said the “biggest dilemma” for many teachers is determining how much to “memorialize” and how much to study and analyze.

“That’s what teachers get hung up on the most,” Marcus said.

“It’s still a very emotionally powerful time,” he said. “You want to respect that, but at the same time, if all you do is remember, if all you do is have a moment of silence or a ceremony honoring those who have died, you’ve really missed an opportunity.”


Larry Covino, social studies coordinator for Bristol Central, said he uses primary sources in his class — like the recording of Brian Sweeney on board Flight 175 — to help students understand how profoundly historic events can affect the individuals involved.

Because the events of Sept. 11 are still comparatively recent, today’s teachers are able to infuse their lessons with their own recollections, but their emotions are often still raw. One of Covino’s colleagues was talking about the attacks with him and started crying.

Students get a better idea of the attacks’ devastation, Covino said, “when they see a teacher getting teary-eyed and crying.”

Getting The Facts Straight

Lea McCabe, a social studies teacher at Bristol Central High School, said some students who don’t remember Sept. 11 but do remember the country going to war in Iraq “have everything mixed up and everything confused. There’s a lot of walking them through.”

Only a few years ago, McCabe said, students understood exactly why their school might have a moment of silence on the anniversary of the attacks.

“Now it’s almost like we have to pre-teach,” McCabe said. “This is what we’re going to do, and here’s why.”

In East Hartford, teachers are trying to make sure every high school and middle school student learns about Sept. 11 in their history and social studies classes during this anniversary, said Edward Quick, head of the high school’s social studies department.

For example, last week in Sara Slogesky’s ninth-grade world history class, students discussed newspaper headlines on the attacks: “Outrage” in the Atlanta Constitution; “Bastards” in the San Francisco Examiner; “Act of War” in The Courant.

The ninth-graders, who were only 4 in 2001, said the headlines helped them understand how traumatic the attacks had been.

Deneiliah Edwards, 14, said she remembers watching the news on television with her mother and sensing that something sad had happened. While she understands a lot more now, and she knows the names Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, she said she’s still not clear on the role each played.

“I don’t really know the difference,” Deneiliah said, but she’s expecting to learn more Monday.

And, like several others in the class, Deneiliah does have a personal connection to the aftermath of Sept. 11: Her cousin is in the Army in Iraq.

What The Future Holds

In Joseph Bernabucci’s civics class at East Hartford High School, he focuses less on the details of the September attacks and more on the issues that the attacks raised.

Students “really need to know what the core issues are that will determine which way we’ll go with this war on terror,” Bernabucci said.

He talks to his class about the terrorists and what their motivations might have been — U.S. wealth, religious differences, oil.

After class, Bernabucci said that patriotic fervor in the years following the attacks made it almost taboo to try to understand the terrorists.

Even now, he said, teaching about Sept. 11 is “kind of nerve-wracking” because “you’re never quite sure if what you’re saying is being interpreted the right way with the kids, especially with the religious issues.”


Closer To Ground Zero

Connecticut has no statewide guidelines or requirements when it comes to teaching about Sept. 11; it’s left to each district to decide what to do.

Mark Linabury, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said this flexibility is appropriate partly because in southwestern Connecticut more families were directly affected by the attacks.

Tom Broderick first started teaching at Scotts Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield three years ago.

He had prepared a lesson for his students for Sept. 11 but just before class started, a colleague told him that one of his students had lost a parent in the attacks.

“It kind of gave me pause, and I questioned what to do,” Broderick said, but he did go ahead with the lesson, which went without a problem.

Since then, though, he has shied away from teaching much about Sept. 11 and instead encourages his students to talk about it at home.

“I like to have parents discuss it with their kids because I don’t know where they are coming from,” Broderick said. “I don’t know if they lost someone, where their emotions are.”

And with Sept. 11 coming only a week or two into the school year, Broderick said, teachers typically don’t really know their students.

“They don’t have the emotional connection yet,” Broderick said, so it’s hard to judge what to say.

At Greenwich High School, Principal Christopher Winters said the topic comes up in the contemporary American history class.

“All of our teachers treat the topic with sensitivity, knowing that it may have affected some of these students’ parents or relatives,” Winters said.

The high school also is planning a schoolwide meeting Monday with bagpipes, taps and a moment of silence.

“I think we are all emotionally scarred by it, and we are all looking for ways to heal,” Winters said, “and to help our youth of today understand something that is becoming a little bit more of a history lesson for them than an actual lived experience.”