'Teacher Of The Year' Encourages Talking To Kids About The Insurrection At US Capitol

Jan 8, 2021

Kids want to feel seen and included in conversations about the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol Wed. That's one of the takeaways heard in the classroom belonging to the Western Region's 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Susanna Cerrato teaches third grade at Ira B. Jones Elementary School in Asheville. While Cerrato is teaching her students remotely during the pandemic, she's emphatic about incorporating a daily "community meeting" with her class before the textbook learning begins. She says when kids feel emotionally supported in the classroom, they're better equipped to take on the day's coursework. 

"If we give the eight or nine year olds, the respect of honoring the fact that they to bear witness to these experiences and events and give them an opportunity to speak to them, it only helps them feel seen and heard more," Cerrato said. 

On Thurs., Cerrato convened the morning's discussion by asking her students about what transpired in Washington, D.C. less than 24 hours earlier. She says students opened up about their feelings, to include sadness, fear and anger. 

"One of my students made the connection between the protest last summer and this, and he said, 'they treated the protesters this past summer so differently...it just seems like they could do whatever they wanted,'" Cerrato said. "So they're just not blind to any of it."

Cerrato is one of nine educators across the state’s 94,000 who could earn the title of North Carolina’s 2021 Teacher of the Year. That distinction is scheduled to be announced in April.