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Normandy English students connect with best-selling author to learn about Flint water crisis

Dr. Hanna-Attisha meets with Normandy students


February 4, 2019



by Erin Stocks

English Department

Normandy High School



Literature  is coming alive at Normandy High School!  


Students in Sarah Kelly's and Erin Stocks’ AP Language and Composition courses were recently treated to an engaging virtual field trip to meet a 2018 New York Times best-selling author.


During  the fall semester, students were assigned to read Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s best-selling text,  “What  the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.”


On December 6, students were excused from their third period classes and reported to the auditorium to participate in a Skype conference call. Kelly and Stocks, along with student Suney Cedeno, used Twitter to arrange for students to chat with Hanna-Attisha.


Students  prepared questions ahead of time and were able to ask their question via the computer in real time. Students took turns approaching Hanna-Attisha to greet her and ask their questions.  


Emma  Paoletta, a student in Stocks’ class said, “It was really interesting to meet her one-on-one. I came to understand more about her opinions and her journey to save the children of Flint, Michigan.”


The experience was very special because Hanna-Attisha seemed  genuinely excited to speak to the students, and took the time out of her busy schedule at the children’s clinic in Flint to meet with them.


Hanna-Attisha is best known as the “whistle-blower” for the Flint water crisis.  A pediatrician serving in the impoverished town of Flint, Michigan, Hanna-Attisha has worked tirelessly to bring clean water to her patients.  In 2012, unusually high levels of lead were detected in many of her patient’s blood- their water was essentially poisoned. The government of Michigan initially did not recognize this as a problem and refused to take responsibility for cleaning up the water source.  


In her book, she tells the story of her fight for these children, as well as the adversity she faced while trying to find a solution to this problem.


The English Department is hopeful that there will be more Skype interviews with authors, as it was an enriching and worthy experience for the students.  The teachers enjoyed getting to know this author as well, especially getting to work with an author on a more  personal level. Stocks even worked together with Hanna-Attisha to design the students final assessment of the text.


The students of AP Language and Composition are currently collaborating with the Digital Media and Creative Arts program at Normandy to create an electronic “thank-you” video to send to Hanna-Attisha because they were so grateful for this experience.  This encounter gave the students a chance to interact with the text in a unique and engaging way that will likely not be forgotten.



PHOTO CAPTION:  Normandy students had the opportunity to learn with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha during a Skype session on December 6. Hanna-Attisha has worked for years to bring clean water to the residents of Flint, Michigan.