Fairland teacher brings 9-11 history to classroom

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

Considering Renee Lemley was uncertain whether her daughter survived the Sept. 11 attacks, it should come as no surprise the Fairland Middle School history teacher makes the tragedy a part of her 8th grade curriculum.

Lemley said she has worked each school year to educate her students about 9-11 and said it’s important children come to understand the historical significance of the event.

“This year’s class was in second grade when it happened so they had limited exposure to what happened,” she said. “As you get older it changes your perspective. They were probably sheltered from the footage and details and I feel like I need to share a portion of that with them.”

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Lemley’s daughter, Kathleen, was a 24-year-old in the Navy who was working in intelligence and was supposed to be at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.

However, Kathleen Lemley was pregnant at the time and was not there. Seven of 12 people in the office she would have been in died as a result of the crash.

Renee Lemley spent a few frantic hours trying to locate her daughter that morning.

“It was pretty frantic. We didn’t find out until later she wasn’t there,” she said. “A little personal scare there.”

This month, as the six-year anniversary of the attacks drew near, Lemley’s students were assigned a variety of activities. Students had to write poems, watch video and interpret political cartoons.

Hollie Spotts, a 13-year-old from Proctorville, said she was intrigued by the history of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

“I thought it was interesting how it started in 1992 and how he’d been trying to plan it for a long time,” she said. “I didn’t know it started so early. I thought it was just 2001.”

Corey Graley, also 13, said he thought the drawings were a different way to learn about the attacks.

“I thought the drawing was a really fun thing to do,” he said. “I learned quite a lot.”

Lemley said there is a balance between healing and not forgetting. She said it’s important the event remain in the American conscience.

“I’m a history teacher,” she said. “It’s a blessing that time heals all wounds, but at the same time I think we’re forgetting about the terrible pain that caused.”