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February 14, 2021

Classroom Resource: Meet Fred Guttenberg, father of Jamie, gun safety advocate

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Directions: Read the summary and watch the video clips of Fred Guttenberg speaking to educators/staff and students over a PBS NewsHour EXTRA Zoom. Then answer the discussion questions. For students who want to learn more about gun violence and solutions as well as finding the helpers in their life after difficult times, watch the video above.

Summary: Today is the third anniversary of the Parkland mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed.

Jamie Guttenberg

In mid-January, NewsHour EXTRA held a Zoom with Fred Guttenberg, gun safety activist, founder of Orange Ribbons for Jamie and author of a new book “Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope.”

The book focuses on those people in his Guttenberg’s life who helped him get through the tragedy and continue to do so.

Jamie, Guttenberg’s daughter, was killed in the shooting. She was just 14 years old.  Guttenberg’s son Jesse survived the attack that day.

Fred Guttenberg also spoke with educators about his brother who died of cancer in 2017, after being exposed to toxins as a first responder at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th.

The PBS conversation was hosted by Sari Beth Rosenberg, NYC public school teacher, and attended by dozens of educators, school staff, parents and students.

Guttenberg’s activism revolves around addressing the underlying problem of gun violence and guns and works to enact sensible gun safety legislation.

 

Highlight clips:

“My daughter was the toughest person I’ll ever know in my life.” — Fred Guttenberg

 

“You as the educators will teach about people who come out of this moment, heroes, leaders, that we don’t think of today, but you’ll be teaching about years from now.” — Fred Guttenberg on the role of educators/school staff

 

“Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers,” Fred Guttenberg recalls the famous quote the name of his book by Mister Fred Rogers who offered variations of it over the years. The quote went viral after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, and once again after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

 

Fred Guttenberg said he will remind legislators on every trip he makes to Washington D.C. how they feared for their lives during the Capitol Riots, and how that’s exactly how his 14-year-old daughter Jamie felt before she was killed.

 

Discussion questions:

Warm up questions: 

  1. Who is Fred Guttenberg? Who was his daughter Jamie Guttenberg?
  2. What happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three years ago on Feb. 14, 2018? What do the hashtags #ParklandStrong and #MSDStrong mean?
  3. Why did Guttenberg choose to write “Find the Helpers”?
  4. When and Where did the shooting take place? When was Guttenberg’s book published?
  5. How has finding helpers in life helped Guttenberg to persevere in the tragic losses of his brother after 9/11 and his daughter in Parkland?

Focus questions:

  1. Why do you think Fred Guttenberg became a gun safety activist after his daughter Jamie was killed in Parkland?
  2. Why does Guttenberg say that writing his book and finding the helpers in life helps him to honor his daughter Jamie?

Media literacy:

1. What questions would you like to ask Fred Guttenberg about his daughter Jamie? What about his full-time work as a gun safety advocate?

2. The audience in this NewsHour Zoom was made up primarily of educators and school staff along with some parents, students and supporters of Guttenberg.

  • How might Guttenberg have addressed this particular audience differently to how he would address members of a Congressional committee on gun safety? How about an audience at a gun safety debate in which there are pro-gun control voices and anti-gun control voices?

Dig Deeper: Have students read these Student Voice pieces and ask them what public policies should be enacted to decrease gun violence in the U.S.

NewsHour article: How teens want to solve America’s school shooting problem (To hear more student voices on this subject, click here.)

NewsHour article: While the national conversation around gun safety is changing, many political hurdles loom

Student Voice: How gun violence has ravaged the education experience in America

Connection Challenge: Students leave social comfort zones to build stronger, safer communities


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