The September 11th Families Association named Lynbrook’s Waverly Park Elementary School teachers Shari Bowes and Jessica Kuehn recipients of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center Teacher Award. They received a certificate of merit and a $500 gift for their school. They were also invited, along with this year’s seven other award recipients, to attend a ceremony at the Tribute Center on Feb. 26 — the date of the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.
Their project connected a fourth-grade social studies unit on heroism in the wake of 9/11 to service projects their students initiated in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy left many students and staff of the Lynbrook community without homes, clean running water or electricity. “It was a time when everyone truly had to come together to help their neighbors,” explained Kuehn. “Our principal, who had been personally affected by the hurricane, asked each student to write a personal narrative of their experience during the hurricane. Their personal narratives will be bound into a book that will serve as a resource to record Waverly Park’s history.”
In addition, Bowes and Kuehn, as student council moderators, acted on an idea from a former parent to participate in a project dubbed “Operation Sandy Claus.” Student council members sold bracelets to raise money for hurricane victims. With the money they raised, they filled stockings with gift cards and toys, which they gave to families whose holidays were derailed by the natural disaster. Student council members also wrote personal notes to enclose in each of the stockings.
In addition, they adopted an art class from a school in Long Beach, donating an assortment of crayons, markers and paint brushes to replace supplies that were lost as a result of flooding in their school.
The Waverly Park grade four social studies curriculum focuses on the heroism that was displayed in the aftermath of 9/11. Each year, students visit the WTC Visitor Center to hear personal stories about the heroes who acted so bravely in the face of this great tragedy.
“We truly believe that as educators, it is our job to teach children to make a difference,” said Kuehn “Our school theme last year was ‘Be the change.’ In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, our students really personified that theme, reaching out to help others in need.”