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Fauquier Teacher Gives Daughters a Civics Lesson
Jan 23,2017


By SaraRose Martin
Capital News Service

 
WASHINGTON – Mert Cook teaches students at Coleman Elementary School in the town of Marshall in northwestern Fauquier County. But on this rainy Saturday morning, she had a lesson for her own children. She had organized a carpool to Washington, D.C., and brought along two of her daughters. They were about to learn about democratic protesting.

“I felt it was really important to show the power of women together,” Cook said. “Setting the example for my girls that our voice matters is incredibly important. We can’t just talk – we have to walk!”

Cook was among a contingent of Northern Virginia educators who joined other citizens from across the state and across the country for the Women’s March on Washington. Many of the participants came to protest incoming President Donald Trump.

“I had a student share with me with tears falling how scared she was for Trump because her family is illegal,” Cook said. “I assured her not to worry. I truly believed people were better than to allow this to happen. I was crushed when it did.”

Co-worker and teacher Mirae Daly joined Cook because she is concerned about the effect she believes Trump’s presidency may have on young people.

“My biggest concern is for young people, who stand to have your lives affected more so than mine,” Daly said. “My hope is that future generations can live in a world that has clean air to breathe, appreciation of differences and equality under law.”

The march originally obtained a permit for 200,000 attendees, but the turnout in D.C. exceeded that, and there were rallies and marches in cities around the country as well. Minority groups, people of color, the LGBTQ community and men and women of every variety chanted and held signs denouncing what they believe to be lewd, sexist or offensive comments and beliefs of Trump.

Barbara Dollison is a substitute teacher in Northern Virginia, and her daughter worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Her daughter explained to Dollison that the march was both a way to stand up for women’s rights and a statement to the Trump presidency that attempts to undermine women’s rights will be opposed.

“We spend a lot of time teaching about respecting others. Then the children are exposed to an adult leader who models bad behavior such as bullying and extreme disrespect,” Dollison said. “That’s going to take a lot of explaining.”

Cook said the march renewed her faith in the ability of people to work together.

“I truly believe kindness matters. We will make a difference together,” Cook said. “And we have to keep all children safe. I really wanted to get as many people together – to make the difference together.”

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