For the past five years, the Stan Greenspon Center and the Olga Lengyel Institute, based in New York City, partnered to bring a weeklong educator conference to life here in Charlotte. Middle, high school, and university teachers from all over the Carolinas (and the country!) came to Charlotte to do inquiry work related to issues surrounding the Holocaust and local human rights issues.
The days began at 9:30 am and wrapped up by 5 pm. During the hours in between, educators discovered the richness of Jewish life before the Holocaust, walked through the complex history of civil rights activism as shared by Dr. Willie Griffin of the Levine Museum of the New South, engaged in virtual dialogue with Jered Canty of the Catawba Nation, attended to Rabbi Asher Knight as he shared “Judaism 101” with the group, listened as Jackie Fishman shared her mother’s story of survival, enjoyed a Shabbat meal and attended a Friday evening service at Temple Beth El. To say these days were full is an understatement!
Inspired, and overwhelmed at times, by the information and dialogue throughout the week, each educator created a lesson they will bring back to their students this coming school year. Each teacher shared their creation during the last day of the seminar. Although every person had received the same information during the seminar, the variety of the lesson plans was proof that we all process and interpret this information in powerfully different ways. Oh to be a student in each of the educator’s classrooms this coming year!
In their own words, here is how this seminar impacted our wonderful educators:
“I learned a lot about my own identity and the importance of remembering individual names and experiences instead of the “Single Story”. History is not easy or pleasant – it is complicated.” Maureen P.
“The prewar Jewish information. It definitely gave me insight to what the world lost as far as the Jewish culture. And gave me new way of thinking about how Jews are always just shown in the Holocaust and not before the war. . . It’s going to change the way I teach, and I think others would enjoy challenging their teaching skills as well.” Ami W.
“I loved the activities. I am creating a new class and the content and daybook ideas were perfect for my thoughts on where I was going with this new content” Beth K.
“The teaching strategies were new and approachable to teachers and students. The guest speakers were wonderful as well. Plus I enjoyed hearing what and how others are teaching the Holocaust in their classrooms.” Marri B.