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Education

Who was George Washington? 1st-graders talk about the nation's 1st president

February 22nd, 2012 11:04 am by Madison Mathews

Who was George Washington? 1st-graders talk about the nation's 1st president

Most of the students in Monica Hart’s first-grade class at South Side Elementary thought they were out of school Monday because of the weather.
Little did they know the reason had to do with the man whose face is on the quarter and dollar bill.
The man in question? George Washington, of course.
“He’s on money. That’s what all I know,” first-grader Reyna Martinez-Howell said. “I don’t see money very much. I’m saving my money for a teddy bear.”
After talking for a few more minutes, Martinez-Howell remembered that Washington is an important figure in American history because he served as president, and presidents are important people.
“I know that the presidents, they make statues of them,” she said.
Another first-grader, Greta Lane, also knew Washington was important.
“He is important. He was the first president. He was famous,” she said.
When asked where she had seen pictures of Washington, Lane quickly said, “I’ve seen him on the quarter and a dollar.”
As the students gathered around Hart for their lesson, she told the kids they were out of school because of Washington’s birthday — a federal holiday commonly known as Presidents Day — which is celebrated the third Monday in February.
Washington’s 280th birthday is today.
The students listened intently as they learned Washington was a soldier, farmer, surveyor, patriot and was indeed the nation’s first president. Knowing he was considered to be the father of the nation made the students sit back and realize that there was more to the man whose face appears on the money they sometimes carry in their pockets.
“I believe it’s important for our students to know their history and the significance of the people and the contributions to where they are today,” Hart said.
Even at the young age of 6 or 7 years old, the kids had little trouble understanding concepts like taxes, freedom and patriotism.
“I didn’t know that he was a patriot,” 7-year-old Kevin Smith said. “That he was a person who fought for his country.”
Having the children understand the significance of Washington’s life will hopefully make them have a better appreciation for those kinds of concepts, Hart said.
“He was a regular person and it might allow the students to realize they have the opportunity to be successful and meet their dreams,” she said.

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