North Plainfield, NJ School District Educators Named First For Action Initiative Fellows

By Donna Gaffney | August 27, 2013

(August 27, 2013) – Five North Plainfield, NJ School District educators have been selected as the first annual For Action Initiative Teacher Fellows.  

                         Photo L to R: Suzanne, Susan, Mike, Hope and Michelle.

  • Dr. Hope Blecher, District K-12 Supervisor of Language Arts Literacy, Social Sciences and Media Services;
  • Michele Armento, High School Academic Support English Teacher;
  • Susan Feibush, High School and Middle School Media Center Librarian;
  • Michael Mulry, High School Social Studies Teacher; and
  • Suzanne Sapega, Middle School Reading Teacher

The group will receive $4,000 to develop programs that take teachers, K-12 students, and community members beyond traditional subject matter to explore world politics and the roots of terrorism.

Dr. Blecher says, “In a district where half the population speaks one of 100 languages other than English at home, we must instill a sense of mutual respect and community. This program plants seeds of knowledge and curiosity with the hope that our young people will act in ways that demonstrate their commitment to one another, their awareness of the past, and a respect for our collective future.”

Activities will be rolled out on 9/11 and continue through the school year. They span subject areas including mathematics, social studies, art and music, student clubs, civics, and reading, including:

-- An iMovie project for the class of 2017 who will be seniors on the 15th anniversary of 9/11/01. This initiative will chronicle interviews and serve as an artifact of civic activities.

-- A research project focusing on the international responses to 9/11 through monuments and the arts. Students will work with fine and performing arts staff and the results will be compiled into a larger display.

-- A voter registration drive by High School cheerleaders;

-- Studying the causes of terrorism, learning about acts of terror in history, and exploring the impact of 9/11.

-- Incorporating volunteer opportunities into student clubs, and more.

For Action Initiative Chairperson Donna Gaffney says, “We are excited about the plans these teachers are making for New Jersey’s North Plainfield public school system. It is fitting that our inaugural Fellowship year kicks off with such a strong program, and we look forward to seeing great results.”

Check our website in December for the call for applications for the 2014-2015 Teacher Fellows.

The For Action Initiative Mission:
To raise awareness about the effects of public trauma and terrorism on people, societies, and the world, and to educate teachers and our youth about the history of terrorism, international relations, global security, and domestic and international policies. To inspire young people to take action—as individuals and as part of their community—and support efforts that someday might prevent future acts of global terrorism. 

About the For Action Initiative Curriculum:
We work to place the events of September 11th in a larger and more meaningful educational context.   In order for students to be able to think critically about the events of 9/11, they need to understand much more than just what happened that day.  In order for children to feel safe, not vulnerable, for them to understand others and not develop prejudice, and for them to become effective leaders of tomorrow, they need to be taught about the challenges in our world, i.e. terrorism -- the concept, the history, the causes, and the consequences.  Only after they understand such events and contributing factors, can they fully understand what happened. We hope today’s students will become leaders who will make a difference in the world, with the hope of preventing such occurrences.