April 5th, 2007

WATCH: Lessons Of War

What is life like in a school where half of the children have a parent in a combat zone? What can a teacher do to comfort a child whose mother or father has just deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and at the same time stay focused on the “letter of the week” or the writing lesson of the day?

And then there is the toughest question: When a 7 year old asks, ‘Will my Daddy die?’ or ‘Will my Mommy come home safe?’, how should a teacher respond?

We went to McNair Elementary — a Department of Defense school in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to find out.

This program was the recipient of a Telly Award, as well as a Second Place EWA award. Watch it in two parts below.

Download transcript (PDF)

This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


PodcastSpelling Iraq

In a kindergarten class here, many students have a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan. John Merrow talks to the teacher about how the students cope. Listen to the story.


Li Li LiThe New Role

Tim Howle was a soldier; now he’s a principal. He discusses the transition in role. Listen to the story.


Li Li LiThe Third Grade Model

In the third grade class here, seven students have parents in the war; teacher Gary Wieland, himself a veteran, discusses. Listen to the story.


Li Li LiAfter He’s Gone

When a father is deployed to Afghanistan, the mother’s role becomes that much more challenging. Listen to the story.

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I showed your film this morning to the entire faculty and it was exceedingly well received. It certainly evoked powerful emotions from real anger about the war, to great empathy for the families, and great respect for the quality of the teaching and the compassion of the principal. I introduced the piece as an example of very effective teaching combining compassion with standards under very difficult circumstances. All in all, a huge success . . .

[...] You can watch this piece and check out three companion podcasts right here. [...]

[...] 2008: Telly Awards Lessons of War [...]

[...] wonderful teachers, Nancy Welch and Gary Wieland, at a Department of Defense elementary school on Fort Bragg, North [...]

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