Back to Lessons

A Student of Mine

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle School Language Arts, Social Studies

Objectives
Students will:
• Determine that the Citizen Honorees of Citizen Service Before Self Honors display many of the same
  values as Medal of Honor recipients.
• Relate the character values demonstrated by the Citizen Honoree of the Citizen Service Before Self Honors
  to teachers in their own schools.
• Identify the values demonstrated by Jencie Fagan and support their choices with evidence from the vignette.
• Write in response to the vignette about the situation facing Jencie Fagan on March 14, 2006.

Citizen Service Before Self Honoree Focus:  Jencie Fagan, Middle School Teacher, Reno, Nevada

Introductory Activity:

The teacher will ask the students to write a response to the following sentences, allowing approximately
fifteen minutes to write and share with a partner, then the whole group.

If you were in school and a problem arose that you needed to discuss, what teacher or counselor would
you feel comfortable talking with about the situation? Explain at least two qualities that this person possesses
that would allow you to freely speak with him or her.

After the students write their responses, the teacher will explain the significance of the Citizen Service Before
Self Honors given each year at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, as part of Medal of Honor Day.
The teacher will explain that physical education teacher Jencie Fagan was the first honoree and the first woman
to be awarded the Citizen Service Before Self Honors in March of 2007. As a private citizen, Jencie Fagan
displayed many of the same attributes as our Medal of Honor recipients, courage, commitment, citizenship,
sacrifice, integrity and patriotism.

Whole Group Activity
Students will view the vignette that explains the situation at Pine Middle School in Reno, Nevada, on March 14, 2006.
The teacher will lead students in a brief discussion about Jencie Fagan. The instructor will ask students if Jencie Fagan
demonstrated any of the values of the person mentioned in their individual responses written in the introductory activity.

Small Group Activity:
The teacher will ask students in small groups to determine which of the Medal of Honor values that Jencie Fagan’s
actions most exemplified: courage, commitment, citizenship, sacrifice, integrity, or patriotism. The groups may select
more than one value to analyze, but will have to provide evidence for their responses. The groups also will be given
quotations from the vignette. The groups will choose which quotations to use as evidence for their selection of a value.

Each group will write their value(s) on the top of the paper, the selected quotations, and their rationale underneath.

Whole Group Activity
Each group will share their conclusions with the entire class and explain the evidence for their selection of the value.

Concluding Activity:
Students will write in response to one of the following RAFT assignments.

Concluding Activity

In their letter, students will provide two examples of how Jencie Fagan demonstrated the same
values as a Medal of Honor recipient they have studied.

Assessment:
Response to introductory activity, participation in class discussion, completion/sharing of the small
group activity based on the values, and completion of the RAFT Activity according to teacher specifications

Resources:
Citizen Honors
www.readwritethink.org

Extended Activities:
Students will read a news article accessed from About.com Women’s Issues and the associated
comments. They will clarify the award actually received by Jencie Fagan and discuss student reaction
to the article.

The article can be accessed at http://womensissues.about.com/b/2008/03/26/gym-teacher-jencie-fagan-stops-studentgunman-earns-congressional-medal-of-honor.htm.


Quotations for the lesson, “A Student of Mine”

“Our kids here are beautiful. They are such good children.”
“I have very high expectations…the kids and their improvement. They are finding out about their self-worth . . .
   that for me is why I teach.”
“There were three students between the young man and myself. I told the kids who were between us,
   ‘Go in the locker room and shut the door.’”
“The student with the gun is a student of mine. I started talking to him.”
“I could tell he was upset looking at his face. He looked a little lost.”
“Did I think about him pointing a gun at me? Truth, no. I worried about the kids.”
“I go to him and hug him. When I went to hug him, it just seemed natural. I don’t know why I did it.
   I’m a teacher, a mom, a human being. Anyone who goes to that point…what they must be feeling
   must be horrific.”
“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
“In my head, anybody’d do it because these are children.”
“I was worried about what I was wearing. I wear shorts and tennis shoes.”
“Colin Powell is putting the medal over me and he put his arm on my back to steady me.”
“It was truly an honor to be appreciated by them.”

Quotations from Kendra Hess
“I will always remember that I was thinking, ‘Yes! If anyone is going to save me, Jencie is.’”
“She was showing him love. She was showing him affection. For a student to be that violent
   to another student and Jencie still showed him love.”
“She was tough but had the essence of Mother Hen. Her wings are big enough to spread
   over the entire school. The courage that it took for her to step out those gym doors and literally
   have someone lay down a weapon for her just by her words…she’s truly amazing.”

Citizen Honors - Jencie Fagan

Additional Resources