Chaos in nation’s Capitol prompts classroom discussions in Vermont

Classroom Progress Report

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) — The chaos prompted classroom conversations. Vermont teachers are trying to give students the space to share their feelings and provide some hope. 

“It was my responsibility as a teacher to make sure that when events like these happen, we highlight or talk about these events,” said Edmunds Middle School’s Jeremy Demink.

Mr. Demink teaches social students to seventh and eighth grade students. He began Thursday’s lesson with a simple question. “I showed them imagery and a small video clip, and I asked them as we were watching that, ‘What do you notice?'” 

Edmund students participated in a discussion, watched a short, unbiased video, and filled out a survey to help him understand how his students were feeling. “One of the students said, ‘Can you imagine if those people had been black?'” said another leader in the Burlington School District.

Nina Oropeza, Principal of the Sustainability Academy, said a class of 5th graders engaged in thoughtful conversation, even asking questions about race and Black Lives Matter protests.

“Kids are sponges. We know that kids are picking up on this from their parents from the media,” said Oropeza. So, she contacted her staff, and together they figured out how to talk about the chaos in the country’s capital. “I had a few conversations with teachers last night about, what do we say? How do we make sure we’re being developmentally appropriate? Do we talk about this at all? And the answer for me is yes.” 

Students from both schools were given the space to share their thoughts and feelings. Mr. Demink said he made a point to end his lesson talking about Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia’s runoff election, the first black and Jewish senators to represent Georgia. 

“I wanted them to see the dangers and walk away with a way to make positive change,” said Demink.

“I’m really proud of my team for having those conversations today and I’m really excited to continue to learn from my students and have them lead the way in these conversations,” said Oropeza.

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