Summer Teachers Institute 2016: Intern Thoughts

Posted on August 10th, 2016 by

Art as Resistance

Art as Resistance

One of my favorite learning activities at this year’s Summer Teachers Institute was experiencing a lesson on the Jüdischer Kulturbund. After visiting the Holocaust Museum yesterday, I had learned a little about the Jewish cultural renewal that occurred in Germany in the face of discriminatory laws, and I was left wanting to know more. In perfect serendipity, one of today’s workshops was on exactly that. When all of Germany’s Jewish artists and performers were fired from their jobs, the Jüdischer Kulturbund formed to allow Jewish artists to continue creating, albeit within tighter restraints. We went through a practice lesson, which was designed to show kids how people use art as a form of resistance, and allow them to creatively engage in this idea. We were split up into groups, and tasked to create four pieces of art, each one with an added restriction. In order, they were: You cannot use the color red, you cannot use writing utensils, you cannot use construction paper, and you cannot portray the American flag, but you must represent the spirit of it. The activity was fun, and the wrap up questions afterward were also helpful in making the lesson more meaningful.

During my second semester at college, I taught a twice-a-week class about democracy and grassroots civic projects to middle schoolers, and lesson planning was definitely one of the most difficult parts. On the one hand, you want the students to get your Big Idea and really understand it, but on the other hand, they have to find it interesting and fun. An activity like the Jüdischer Kulturbund one I expereinced today would be the perfect blend of fun and thoughtprovoking. I could definitely see this being adapted to fit my classroom next year, and am encouraged by seeing the Maryland teachers here today share these innovative lesson plans and ideas.

-Emilia Halvorsen

Day One at Beth El Congregation

Day One at Beth El Congregation

The biggest lesson I took from the Summer Teachers Institute program was the difficulty of planning Holocaust education. When dealing with such difficult and distressing subject material, it’s very difficult to stay responsive. My natural tendency when confronted with information about the holocaust is to shut down; I feel that there is so much about the holocaust ingrained in the modern Jewish sub-consciousness that I already know all the raw facts. Rather than just presenting information, the goal of holocaust education should be to illuminate the warning signs of impending tyranny and oppression, and to avoid the mistakes of the past, rather than the revel in the suffering of the past.

–David Agronin

Holocaust survivor Goldie Szachter Kalib

Holocaust survivor Goldie Szachter Kalib

During the Summer Teachers Institute, I was able to hear Holocaust survivor Goldie Szachter Kalib’s testimony about her experiences in Poland and Auschwitz as a young girl. Her powerful account demonstrated the lengths to which she and the adults around her went to keep her safe in the face of relentless Nazi cruelty. She so effectively conjured up the image of her as a Jewish child separated from her family in Nazi-occupied Poland; I will never forget her story. Hearing Mrs. Kalib speak emphasized to me that the victims and survivors of the Holocaust are all people with meaningful life stories, not just figures in photos or statistics in books.

-Alice Wynd

Deborah Batiste presenting on "Echoes & Reflections"

Deborah Batiste presenting on “Echoes & Reflections”

The most mesmerizing part of STI was the combination of stories from the past and how they are being understood today. When we worked together in groups it helped me to understand what it means to be part of a community that does whatever they can to stand in solidarity. It emphasized what it truly means to be a person associated with a history people who have overcome tragedy through finding joy wherever they could. This circles back to the importance of supporting your community so that strength is built up in all the members of that community.

-Rachel Morin

The Real Monuments Men

The Real Monuments Men

For the summer Teachers Institute program I was able to attend two days of the program, the Beth El hosted day and the JMM hosted Wednesday event. I was captivated by the events as they focused on the arts both during and after the Holocaust. I was particularly interested in the sections centering around the cinematography of the Holocaust as it happened and the fiction and non-fiction films/documentaries that emerged years after. I am interested in video and film myself so it was really interesting to learn about the effects of this cinema in the Jewish community.

For instance, I learned a majority of concentration camp footage was from Nazi propaganda, additionally allies used video footage of the camps for propaganda as well. I was also surprised to learn that the making of Holocaust themed movies has been a fairly recent endeavor. Movies I always assumed had some degree of accuracy were also debunked as well others I thought less of such as Uprising had hidden detail I wouldn’t have known about. I was also really interested to learn of one speaker’s story detailing the exploits of her father. He was one of the monetary men serving in WW2 to track hidden Nazi money and stolen art works. Her story about how she uncovered the classified documents in storage and rooted through them until she discovered the character playing George Clooney in the film Monuments Men was in fact her father. Overall it was a very interesting experience that I learned a lot from.

-O. Cade Simon

JMM Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon welcomes participants at the opening of our 2016 Summer Teachers Institute.

JMM Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon welcomes participants at the opening of our 2016 Summer Teachers Institute.

This week the JMM hosted the 2016 Summer Teachers’ Institute about Holocaust education.  The theme this year was Holocaust Remembrance through the Arts.  I attended both the first session at Beth El Synagogue and the third session at the JMM, unfortunately missing the visit to the U.S. Holocaust Museum.  It was, above all else, a singularly moving experience to see so many teachers brought together for the purpose of learning how to better pass on the history and the story of the Holocaust in ways that students can understand and deal with meaningfully.  It was also heartbreaking to hear and see so many stories of loss and grief, and knowing that even for those who survived they could never forget.   Even though I don’t plan to go into education, I’ve already made plans to follow up on some of the material I learned about in these sessions and I’ll remember this week for the rest of my life.

-Gina Crosby

"Skokie" and "The Wave"

“Skokie” and “The Wave”

During the summer teacher’s institute there was a lot of information to process. I found the section about Holocaust films especially interesting.  I went to a living historian workshop during the spring and they also talked about the value of using film and T.V. to start a dialogue about history.  It got me wondering about other films that could be used to tell the story of the Holocaust that might not be Holocaust films, such as “Skokie” which is good at continuing the story and showing that Nazi ideology did not die with the end of WW II, or “The Wave” which looks at a high school history experiment gone wrong to try and show students how the Nazis were able to rise to power. I feel these films would help to contextualize the Holocaust and show how its effects continued past the fact.

-Tamara Schlossenberg

Spoken Work Haikus

Participants in "Music and Art: Exploring Responses to Oppression"

Participants in “Music and Art: Exploring Responses to Oppression”

I’m not a teacher, and likely won’t become one, but that didn’t matter. The Summer Teachers Institute, especially the third day at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, was a very enjoyable experience. My favorite part was with Gail Prensky and Sarah Baumgarten during their presentation “Music and Art: Exploring Responses to Oppression.” When I first heard about its interactive nature, I admittedly felt apprehensive. I was tired and wanted another presentation like the first, where I could sit back and enjoy. The thing is, the moment we split up into groups to begin projects, I didn’t feel tired anymore. The presenter split us into groups of five and gave us the choice of either a visual art or musical project with specific restrictions. My group contained two other interns and two younger teachers, and we decided to do the musical challenge of writing a love song without the word love. We bounced around all kinds of ideas, the interns easily joking around with the teachers. Eventually, we settled on writing haikus about the love for humanity. Because this took us so long to decide on, as we were busy jotting down synonyms to love and deciding whether we wanted this to focus on a gentlemen longing for a maiden, or a maiden longing for a gentlemen (I was outnumbered), or whether it should follow the “traditional” haiku format with allusions to nature, we were still scribbling down stanzas while watching all the other groups present (everyone was amazing). Finally, I stood up to recite the spoken word poems, with the guys standing behind me and snapping for the musical element. One of the interns encouraged everyone to snap, and soon the whole room was snapping and grinning. I won’t remember the exact words of the other presenters, no matter how engaging. This experience, however, is something I doubt I’ll forget for a long time.

-Anna Balfanz

Josh Headley on incorporating graphic novels into Holocaust education.

Josh Headley on incorporating graphic novels into Holocaust education.

The Summer Teacher’s Institute took place on August 1st-3rd, the final day hosted by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and was most interesting for me. As an aspiring social studies teacher, the programming and speakers at STI discussed a plethora of topics that I am interested in. My favorite speaker was Josh Headley, the head of the social studies department at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Josh did an excellent job explaining how he has incorporated graphic novels into holocaust education. He went on to explain that by sparking his students’ interest in certain topics, he managed to inspire them to research other subjects that mattered to them. This very simple notion is often overlooked by the public school system and leads to disengaged students. Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned international educator, has said “If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. Children are natural learners.” Josh is exemplifying this concept by giving his students the tools that are necessary to further their education on their own.

The speakers and programs at STI were all beneficial to me and I look forward to using the abilities I gained as a teacher in the near future.

-Ben Snyder

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JMM Insights: Not Just for Anniversary Years

Posted on February 19th, 2016 by

Last year to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz we presented a program with Shiri Sandler on the exhibit developed by the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York titled A Town Known as Auschwitz: The Life and Death of a Jewish Community. Shiri shared the story of town in which Jews had resided for centuries that has come to be known as a symbol of the Holocaust. While we wanted to create a special program for the anniversary year, JMM’s commitment to Holocaust education and fostering a deeper understanding of the impact of that history on our community and wider world is ongoing.

Fron the Kulturebund

Fron the Kulturebund

For the past ten years we have partnered with the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) in leading a highly successful collaborative Holocaust professional development opportunity. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute is a workshop teaching best practices in Holocaust education. Presenters are invited from around the country to share their knowledge and resources with our local educators. This year STI is planned for Monday, August 1st thru Wednesday, August 3rd and will focus on the art of the Holocaust. While the program is geared for educators, it is open to anyone interested in participating. For more information please contact Deborah Cardin at

Book Cover

Book Cover

This February we decided to offer three programs highlighting personal dimensions of the Holocaust story.  Last week Susan Sullam shared the story of her father Joel Fisher ,who following the war worked as a Monuments Man locating goods plundered by the Nazis. This Sunday at 1:00pm we have our rescheduled lecture with Gail Prensky titled Playing For Life: Art Under Tyranny, exploring the story of a group of Jewish musicians and artists who survived Nazi Germany. Then next week, in conjunction with Chizuk Amuno, we welcome Jennifer Teege, author of My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past for her presentation Discovering A Nazi Legacy: One Family’s Story. You can RSVP for Jennifer’s presentation here.

with Stephanie Satie

with Stephanie Satie

We are also in the process of planning one further program in remembrance of the Holocaust for later this year, again in partnership with BJC plus Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. We are very pleased to welcome Stephanie Satie back to Baltimore to perform her one woman show Silent Witness. This performance marks our 10th Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration taking place on Sunday, April 10th at Baltimore Hebrew Synagogue. The performance draws upon conversations and interviews with child survivors of the Holocaust and paints an uplifting portrait of human resilience.

Jakob Enoch Rosenbaum Bar Mitzvah from A Town Known as Auschwitz.

Jakob Enoch Rosenbaum Bar Mitzvah from A Town Known as Auschwitz.

And we have begun planning for next February when we will bring together three exhibits connected to the remembrance of this tragic period in our history. First, the project that Shiri Sandler spoke about last year, second, from Yad Vashem Auschwitz Album: The Story of Transport. This exhibit contains the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which comes for a collection of photos taken in 1944 by either Ernst Hoffman or Bernhard Walter, two SS men stationed at the camp. Third, a project combining art and family history. Artist Lori Shocket will join us this summer to help facilitate a series of workshops where Holocaust survivors and their families are invited to develop collages reflecting their individual experiences .The pieces will be combined to create a powerful installation, showing that even in the midst of great physical destruction, the human spirit has the ability to transcend.


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Summer Teachers Institute 2015 In Review

Posted on August 26th, 2015 by

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute focused on a seminal event that recently took place, the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. For an excellent summary of the program, please see intern, Eden Cho’s recent blog post: Three Days Later…. Having recently had the opportunity to review teacher evaluations from the workshop, I thought I’d take the opportunity to report on the impact that our annual program has on participants and how it shapes what and how they teach their students.

Summer Teachers Institute Flyer 2015

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute flyer

This year marked the 11th anniversary of this annual program. Since its inception in 2005, it has been a joy to have the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of dedicated educators willing to give up part of their summer vacation in order to enhance their pedagogical skills on a difficult topic. What is always interesting is that the program attracts both new participants each year as well as repeat attendees (including a handful that have participated for more than 5 years!) While it is challenging coming up with new program content year after year that meets the needs of teachers who are new to teaching Holocaust history and literature as well as those who are more seasoned, we are fortunate to have access to an incredible group of scholars and master educators who facilitate sessions on a wide variety of topics.

A total of 38 people representing many different schools and disciplines participated this year. The majority represented public schools (including Baltimore City and Baltimore and Harford Counties). Other participants teach at  while independent, Catholic and Jewish congregational schools as well as universities and we had one home-school educator.

While the fact that so many teachers elect to return year after year is one measure of the high quality of the program and the many benefits it offers, we also conduct surveys that provide us with valuable feedback. This year’s evaluations provided us with insightful feedback. Nearly all the sessions were rated by participants with the highest marks. Teachers also expressed their appreciation for the quality of the presenters and the abundance of resource material that they received. The following are sample participant comments.

*I liked how we started with Auschwitz film and survivor story, then went backwards to discuss the history.

*Agenda was well developed and followed. Guest speakers were well versed in the content and kept the group involved.

*Superlative speakers who provided different visions of Auschwitz- informative, great presenters.

*I know from talking with Louise (Gezcy) that there was a last minute change in the program. You did a wonderful job making it work so smoothly.

*It is great to hear from the practicing educator. Thank you for your great energy, Louise (Gezcy)!

*Wow! What an inspiration Bluma (Shapiro) is! To have gone through what she did, yet be willing to share her story and teach important lessons about life is simply amazing. She is a portrait of perseverance, forgiveness, and positivity!

*A blessing to meet living history! Thanks.

*I could listen to Shiri (Sandler) all day! A marvelous presentation, not just about the background of Auschwitz, but how to read photos and artifacts! Great job!

*A wealth of information. A very concise history of Auschwitz, the Jewish community, and what the Germans chose it. Very interesting! Very interesting lens of looking at Auschwitz before it became the death camp. Shiri is very energetic and knowledgeable. Thank you! Great resources.

*[Heller Kreshtool] was a pleasure! Great decision to place her as the last session. Refreshing perspective I hadn’t considered much.

*The story of a child of survivors is critical to how we now teach the Holocaust.

*Doesn’t matter how many times I visit (the USHMM), it’s still powerful.

*This was an excellent opportunity (presentation by Dr. White and Dr. Cohen) to discover how to teach complexity and depth in investigative skills to our students.

*Very useful information (Centropa presentation)! Amazing website full of information! Liked being given time to play around with the website. Novel theme: show whole person, not just person as victim.

This was an excellent opportunity (conversation with Fr. Bob and Rabbi Josh) for guided dialogue with the presenters as facilitators.

Great overview of 4 graphic novels! Good reasons to use graphic novels. Also gave novel recommendations for children. Dynamic speaker (Josh Headley)!

Thank you, and your staff, for another insightful Summer Teachers Institute!

Thanks again for this amazing experience. The institute was great and I feel lucky that I was able to participate.

Because our Summer Teachers Institute meets the qualifications of both the Maryland State Department of Education as well as Baltimore City Public Schools  for high quality professional development (in order to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we are able to offer participants professional development credit. In order to be eligible for the credit, they must turn in a written reflection (for MSDE credit) as well as an implementation plan (i.e. lesson plan, for Baltimore City). These reflections and teaching plans provide another measure for assessing programmatic impact as they demonstrate which aspect of the programs are most useful for teachers and which resources they plan on using. It was gratifying to learn from this year’s submissions that teachers plan on integrating content from each session as well as many of the websites, books and lesson plan resources they received. Evaluations and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program sponsors, Jerry and Judy Macks, the Klein Sandler Family Fund and the Conference for Claims Against Germany for making our Summer Teachers Institute possible and for enabling us to reach out to such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable classroom resources.

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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