ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - As violence erupted at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, January 6, teachers in the Albemarle County Public School district began helping their students process everything that was unfolding.
Steve Whitaker, a social studies teacher at Jack Jouett Middle School, says students are hyper aware of what’s going on in the world and that’s why it’s important to bring that to light.
“To not bring things up is kind of a dishonesty, and I think we need to let them know that we know things are happening in the world,” Whitaker said.
That’s why Whitaker began Thursday’s class by showing his students images from Wednesday’s events.
“I gave them about three minutes to journal and to write down questions that they had. I asked each of them to submit at least one or two of those questions to me privately, so that I could look at them,” Whitaker said.
He says modeling to his students how to process information is critical: “We as adults become a little more inured to things that happen in the world around us and we forget that we have coping mechanisms that the students are just beginning to develop. I think to let them unlock those mechanisms in their own minds is a really important job for educators to do,” Whitaker said.
For talent development resource teacher at Western Albemarle High School, Zoe Padron, Thursday’s class was about listening to her students and hearing their feelings.
“It’s really about putting kids needs first and making sure that they are feeling safe and protected and helping them process what they’re feeling,” Padron said.
ACPS superintendent Matthew Haas released a video message addressing Wednesday’s events and asking students and staff to take care of themselves.