How school libraries adjusted when Queen Elizabeth died

How school libraries adjusted when Queen Elizabeth died

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FILE – Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant at the Buckingham Palace in London on June 5, 2022, on the last of four days of celebrations to mark the Platinum Jubilee.


When Fort Worth elementary school librarian Mindy Selby arrived at work Thursday morning, she hadn’t heard the news that Queen Elizabeth II was “under medical supervision” at Balmoral Castle.

Hours later, Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement that Britain’s longest-serving monarch had died at 96.

“Once the news hit today, I began weeding my books showing Elizabeth as current UK monarch,” Selby said Thursday.

Selby, who works at Hubbard Heights Elementary, used the moment as a “mini-lesson” for students on how libraries have to be refreshed whenever major historical events occur.

“Otherwise I am not giving them correct information,” she said. She expects more questions once the students have time to process and hear more about the historic event over the weekend.

In the coming days Selby and the hundreds of other librarians across Fort Worth schools will complete this extensive process — as students learn about the historic moment that is Queen Elizabeth II passing. Other books that will need to be weeded include those showing Charles and William in their now-outdated roles.

Teacher: student’s ‘aren’t going to be shocked’ by passing of monarch

In Arlington, most of the classes for the day were done when the official announcement was made. But Jeff Beck, the head of the social studies department at Martin High School, said there are some lessons he sees for students when they return to class Friday.

“The Queen of England is a head of state, but not head of government, whereas in the United States, we don’t have a distinction between those two things,” he said. “In the US, we expect our presidents to do the ceremonial things as well as the actual governance.”

Other teachers, including those in world history classes, might discuss the “unwinding of colonialism in the 20th century,” which occurred during Elizabeth’s 70-year reign, Beck said.

The British empire was at its peak just years before the queen’s birth, claiming over a quarter of all land on earth. Countries from India to Kenya broke away during the 20th century, becoming independent.

But Beck said that the distance of the death and the old age of the queen make the event less relevant to local students than other recent historic events in the U.S.

“It probably wouldn’t be as impactful as some other things … that we’ve talked about (like) overturning Roe v. Wade, things like that,” he said.

“The kids aren’t going to be shocked that a 96-year-old woman died,” he added. “It wouldn’t be the same as if it were some sort of unexpected tragedy.”

Gwenn Burud, who taught deaf and hard of hearing students in Fort Worth and is a Democratic nominee for Texas Senate, said the moment will have different significance in each classroom.

“I would … point out the historic significance of the British Sign Language bill granted assent by the queen,” she told the Star-Telegram. “Being a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, I feel it would be beneficial to address that aspect of history.”

Mary Jo Greene, a garden educator in Fort Worth who is from the United Kingdom, said she expects questions from students and teachers alike when she goes to campuses because of her accent.

Even in the store just hours after the announcement was made she was asked, she told the Star-Telegram.

How do young kids process death of famous people?

For the youngest children, the deaths of leaders or celebrities and other events that involve big emotions can be difficult.

Audrey Rowland, the founder and CEO of Green Space Learning in Fort Worth, said the role of early educators is to use clear language and answer questions.

“We want to use clear language, ‘the queen died,’” she said. “We don’t want to explain the history of the monarchy or what her role is unless we are talking to grade schoolers. This is a person that most people know about and she’s died and a lot of people will be very sad about this.”

More importantly, educators and parents should accept the emotions and reactions of their children, and not try to coach them through feeling the “right thing,” Rowland said.

“We want children to develop an authentic emotional range,” she said. “So we want children to be authentic and we can trust that they will come to the right place.”

Knowing how to express emotions is difficult for younger children, as they are still learning what their emotions are and how they feel them.

“Particularly under the age of 6, they need to focus more on understanding how they actually feel about things before they concern themselves with ‘how do my feelings about things impact others,’” Rowland said. “So we’re gonna give them a little time to add things to really find their own emotions and their emotional range and … really identify those things before they start to mold those things into what is socially expected.”

Marsha Richardson, the director of the School and Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate school of Education, put together a guide for parents when talking to their children about a famous person dying.

“Lots of emotions may surface about the death, so parents may want to first, check in on their own feelings,” she said. “It’s hard to understand the grieving process over someone you don’t personally know.”

Some of the suggestions include following the lead of the child and accepting that they “may not have experience with loss or death so observing adults and even an entire community or country in mourning may be overwhelming.”

“Let the child come to you and allow them space to share their feelings and thoughts about the event/loss,” she said in the guide. “Let them know it’s OK to feel what they’re feeling and that you’re there for them to talk about what they’re experiencing.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Isaac Windes covers Early Childhood Education as part of the Star-Telegram’s Crossroads Lab. The position is funded with assistance from the Morris Foundation. Windes is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Before coming to the Star-Telegram he wrote about schools and colleges in Southeast Texas for the Beaumont Enterprise. He was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Please reach out with your questions about Early Childhood Education. Email: [email protected] or call or text (817) 668-5449. Follow Isaac on Twitter @isaacdwindes

This News is Published from Google Alert – Queen Elizabeth.

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