Three Days Later and This is What I Learned

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by

Yesterday afternoon, Rachel Kassman (Development and Marketing, Intern Wrangler, and Official Candy Provider), asked me to write a final blog about the Summer Teachers Institute (STI) that occurred a few days ago. In a nutshell, the STI is an annual workshop that provides educators the tools and resources to teach the Holocaust to their own students. The topic changes, and this year, the focus was on Auschwitz. I helped prepare for it by doing administrative tasks such as making copies and folders for each participant, but this is really our Deputy Director, Deborah Cardin’s baby.

Summer Teachers Institute Flyer 2015

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute flyer

In the last 24 hours, I began thinking about all the things I could ramble about and decided to keep the spotlight on the purpose of this workshop: the educators and their students. One of my post-STI duties was to go through the teacher evaluations and analyze the results. The evaluation was in the form of a survey broken down by each session with attendees marking a 1 for the lowest score to a 4 for the highest score. Here are some statistics for you:

*100% of the participants gave Louise Géczy, the Senior Project Coordinator at The John Carroll School, the highest score citing her presentation to be “valuable” and “eye-opening.”

*100% of the participants gave the highest score in their overall experience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and the tour of their permanent exhibit.

*95% of the participants gave the two highest marks (3 or 4) on all the sessions on the first day, 92% of the participants gave the two highest marks on all the sessions on the second day, and 89% of the participants gave the two highest marks on all the sessions on the last day.

*When responding to survivor testimonies and what participants saw at the USHMM, the words “powerful,” “moving,” and “touching” were commonly used.

*When responding to speakers, the words “informative,” “knowledgeable,” and adjectives such as “wonderful” and “fascinating” were commonly used.

Image of entrance sign at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“At first, I thought this would be relatively simple, as I’ve visited before and studied the Holocaust rather extensively. But touring the exhibits brought me to pieces emotionally, and I can definitely relate to my students’ upheavals in studying the Holocaust.”

To end this blog post, here’s a short anecdote for you:

On the second day of STI, the location of the workshop was being held at the USHMM. STI provided buses at two stops, but I chose to meet the group at the museum since I would be staying in DC after. On that particular morning, I either forgot to set my alarm or slept through it, waking up late and scrambling out of my house. By the time I arrived two hours late sweating, and rushing through the metal detector, a very nice security officer pulls me aside and simply states he needs to do a random inspection. Instinctively, I start opening my purse, but he says it’s not necessary. Instead, he grabs a special piece of paper, rubs it on my red Rebecca Minkoff, and feeds it through a machine.

“Can I ask what that does?” I ask timidly.

“It checks your bag for explosive residues, which yours does not have,” he says as he’s reading the results.

I don’t think much of it as I hurriedly searched for Deborah in the lobby. During lunch, I tell the other interns about what happened, knowing I feel something but unsure of what that emotion exactly is. Someone jokes, “It’s because you’re Asian! None of us got randomly inspected.” But what I felt wasn’t a race issue- I’m used to being stereotyped. As the interns approached the main entrance of the museum to re-enter after lunch, I notice two security or police officers walking around outside and three more managing the security inside. That’s when I knew what that feeling was.

Photo of the interior of the Permanent Exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Permanent Exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In all of the museums I’ve visited, none has a tighter security than the USHMM. I felt such sadness and disheartenment that this place of education and living memorial has to be strict in security due to antisemitism that still occurs today, 70 years after the end of World War II. At the same time, I felt hopeful that I was attending a workshop with dedicated and passionate educators who were spending three days out of their summer vacation to learn how to better teach their students.

So, to Rev. Robert Albright, Judith Cohen, Louise Géczy, Dr. Lauren Granite, Josh Headley, Heller Kreshtool, Shiri Sandler, Rabbi Josh Snyder, Joseph White, and every single educator who attended at least one day of this year’s STI: thank you, thank you, thank you, for loving our younger generation. To me, you’re not just teaching about the pain and atrocity that occurred years ago, but you’re fighting antisemitism, and teaching kids how to be compassionate and kindhearted.

For other educators who could not join us this year, here are some resources from this year’s Summer Teachers Institute:

Centropa: Where Jewish history has a name, a face, a story

USHMM: Resources for Educators

Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

Graphic Novels recommended by Josh Headley:

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco

Palestine by Joe Sacco

Jerusalem by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi

Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, and Marc Lizano

Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv by Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem, and Koren Shadmi

IMG_0993A blog post by Education Intern Eden Cho. To read more posts by interns click HERE.

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Performance Counts August 2015: Intern Round Up

Posted on August 14th, 2015 by

From Rachel Kassman, Development & Marketing Manager and Official Intern Wrangler:

This was my first year as the official “Intern Wrangler,” and Jobi Zink left me some very dainty yet incredibly challenging shoes to fill. Luckily this summer’s amazing interns helped keep things running smoothly and made the job much easier for me than I expected! This year’s interns hailed from a variety of schools – George Washington University, Cooperstown Graduate Program, University of Maryland, Towson University, Dickinson College, and Johns Hopkins University, representing both undergraduate and graduate student programs.

Interns at the National Federation for the Blind.

Interns at the National Federation for the Blind.

While each intern had their own individual projects and assignments, it was all hands on deck for de-installing The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit and installing Cinema Judaica. You couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic crew. The interns were also of invaluable assistance for Cinema Judaica’s grand opening on July 2nd. But I think my favorite group project was the creation of our Paul Simon lip-synch videos – I won’t go into too much detail but trust me, when you see them you’ll understand all the laughter that’s been happening in the office this summer. All of these projects were a great opportunity for staff and interns to work together and get to know each other better.

Every year we try and make sure our summer internships are well-rounded, fully-immersive experiences that benefit our interns as much as they benefit us through a variety of field trips, workshops, and other professional opportunities. This year was no exception.

We were so pleased to be hosted by our neighbors at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American history for their birthday open house. We also had special tours of the National Federation for the Blind, where the interns learned about accessibility; and the Baltimore Museum of Industry, where the interns were able to go “behind the scenes” and check out the BMI’s collections storage area (trust me, it’s more fascinating than you think!). The interns also visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum during the Summer Teachers Institute.

Posing in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture special exhibit.

Posing in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture special exhibit.

Exhibit interns Sophia and Elizabeth also had the opportunity to visit the National Library of Medicine in the course of their internship while researching potential exhibit object loans. Collections intern Kaleigh visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia to pick up an item, visited the Maryland Historical Society to return loan items used in our Amazing Mendes Cohen exhibit, and made multiple trips into the community to pick up Museum collection donations.

Museum staff members were kind enough to volunteer their time to provide a series of professional workshops for the interns as well. Curator Karen Falk introduced them to exhibition planning and evaluation while Collections Manager Joanna Church gave them a hands-on course in object handling. Deputy Director Deborah Cardin covered the ins-and-outs of grant proposal writing while Assistant Director Tracie Guy-Decker took them through the whirlwind of project management. Programs Manager Trillion Attwood and I led the annual “Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviewing” workshop – though we were very impressed already with the professionalism of this year’s intern cohort! Executive Director Marvin Pinkert hosted all of the interns for a brown bag focus group on marketing the Museum – particularly its upcoming exhibition projects.

Collections Intern Kaleigh inventories a doctor's bag.

Collections Intern Kaleigh inventories a doctor’s bag.

Saralynn and Sheldon Glass Education Interns: Eden Cho & Falicia Eddy 

Our education interns always have their work cut out for them – every summer the Museum participates in SuperKids, a “summer cultural enrichment program designed to help elementary grade students in Baltimore City Public Schools maintain and/or improve their academic skills.” Once a week the Museum hosted campers for a half-day experience at the Museum, including an in-depth tour and scavenger hunt in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and a “Create Your Own Neighborhood”hands-on activity. In addition to working with these campers, education interns lead tours of our two historic synagogues, assisted at the front desk, helped plan and execute our three day Summer Teachers Institute and much more.

Each intern also had her own special projects – Eden created a treasure hunt of things to look for in our current Cinema Judaica exhibit, analyzed teacher evaluations of school tours for grant writing purposes, researched the history of St. John the Baptist Lithuanian Church for the development of a new synagogue tour, and designed a curriculum for our upcoming exhibit Paul Simon: Words and Music. Falicia adapted the Ida Rehr’s immigrant trunk lessons to immigrant experiences today, created a small lobby exhibit as a companion the 2015 Summer Teachers Institute, conducted research on businesses in Pikesville and assisted with a lesson plan on protest and injustice in Baltimore’s history that connects Jews and African Americans.

Education Interns Eden and Falicia direct a SuperKids activity.

Education Interns Eden and Falicia direct a SuperKids activity.

Saul L. Ewing, LLC in Memory of Robert L. Weinberg Exhibitions Interns: Sophia Brocenos & Elizabeth Livesey

The summer 2015 exhibition interns Elizabeth Livesey and Sophia Brocenos worked on our upcoming Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America exhibit. This exhibit opens in March and I think it’s going to knock your socks off – in no small part because of the efforts fo Elizabeth and Sophia!

Elizabeth’s research focused on scientific research conducted in Jewish hospitals in the 20th century and different medical milestones during the “Golden Age of Medicine.” She then translated this research into exhibit panels and object and image labels. Elizabeth also looked into ancestry and DNA survey programs, and the lives and careers of Drs. Salk and Sabin. She also conducted and transcribed an oral history for the exhibit.

Sophia’s internship focused on identifying, executing, and processing loans of digital images from institutional collections. This involved contacting an employee at said institution and working out the paperwork to receive the digital image and the rights to use it in the exhibit as well as cataloging them in the JMM collections system and creating a physical file. She also assisted Curator Karen Falk with maintaining consistent data over various exhibit files.

Exhibitions Intern Sophia hard at work at her desk.

Exhibitions Intern Sophia hard at work.

Saul L. Ewing, LCC in Memory of Robert L. Weinberg Collections Intern: Kaleigh Ratliff

This summer’s collections intern Kaleigh was an amazing asset. The Museum manages a large and ever-growing collection of objects, photographs and archival material that is cared for by a single staff member. Having a full time summer intern means getting caught up with the day-to-day work of collections that often gets delayed due to more immediate concerns. Kaleigh worked on this year’s collections inventory, working her way through roughly 1,600 small objects. She also updated and reconciled object loans (both those we loaned out to other institutions and those we borrowed), housed artifacts in their proper places, processed new accessions into the collections, assisted on artifact pick-ups of new donations, and prepared materials for researchers. 

Jewish Museum of Maryland Marketing Interns: Rachel Sweren & Carmen Venable

I may be a little biased (I am the marketing manager after all) but these two interns put the fun back into summer for me. With their combined efforts the Museum created 13 separate lip-synch videos (which I can’t wait to share with you – don’t worry, they’ll be coming soon!), assisted with the Museum Shop annual inventory, and researched and created content for use on all the JMM’s social media platforms.

Carmen also created an exhibit installation in miniature video with collections intern Kaleigh (you can view it HERE), wrote instructions on how to create future videos, whipped our Tumblr into shape, sent out promotional materials about JMM’s summer programs and researched multiple marketing strategies and ideas.

Interns at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Interns at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

YouthWorks Summer Jobs: Zericka Jones and Darius Smith 

This year the Museum also participated in the Baltimore City’s YouthWorks summer jobs program, which matches up Baltimore City students, ages 14 – 21 to five-week work experiences with private sector, nonprofit, and city and state government employers. We were thrilled with both our YouthWorks employees. Zericka worked with Marvin Pinkert as an administrative assistant, helping to organize his office, prepare meeting and project materials, and assisting wherever needed throughout the Museum. Darius worked with Joanna Church in the collections, assisting with an inventory of the photograph collection and digitizing genealogy and family history records.

Collections boxes with pink post-it notes on them.

Darius inventoried all the boxes with pink tags!

If you haven’t already been following along already, I strongly urge you to head over to our blog and check out some of the truly excellent posts these interns have created throughout their summer here at the JMM – THIS LINK http://jewishmuseummd.org/tag/interns/ will take you directly there!

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NFB BELL Camp Visits the JMM

Posted on August 12th, 2015 by

BELL Camp at JMM Photo

BELL Campers create paper neighborhoods.

This summer my JMM colleagues and I had a fantastic time welcoming the NFB BELL (National Federation of the Blind, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning) Camp students back to the Museum. We have had the pleasure of working with them for the past three summers. They are a group of approximately eleven students who attend mainstream classes during the school year in their local public school districts, where they are typically the only braille readers in their schools. The students range in age from five to twelve years old. The goal of the Camp is to promote Braille Literacy. We help them achieve this goal by creating developmentally appropriate, innovative educational programs for them at the Museum that utilize Braille Literacy to teach History and Social Studies in support of the History, Social Studies and Braille Literacy Common Core Curriculum Standards in the State of Maryland.

Museum staff assist BELL campers during art activity.

Museum Staff are hands on with the campers.

Over the past three summers we have explored the themes of hero and explorer as well as the subjects of Jewish History, American History, Social Studies, Architecture, Archaeology and Community Planning. Our heroes program drew upon our Superheroes Exhibit, which included a comic book that we transcribed in braille, to set the stage for our conversation regarding how heroes are defined and depicted in American literature and in American society. Last summer we invoked the great explorers Columbus and Armstrong when we taught the students to read a braille map and navigate their way across our Campus to an archaeological project that we constructed to help them understand what an Archaeologist does. Then, this year we discussed examples of community institutions and the ways in which neighborhoods have changed over the last two-hundred years as a result of technological invention. After the discussion, the students designed their own neighborhoods with construction paper and braille labels. As they worked on these projects, it was wonderful to watch them teach the adults (my colleagues) to read braille. I believe that it is a powerful reminder that children too, have the capacity to be teachers. My colleagues and I have also immensely enjoyed the opportunity to watch these children grow up over the last three summers. We look forward to future visits with them at the Museum.

Robyn and campers standing outside the entrance to the Voices exhibit

Robyn gives the campers a tour of “Voices of Lombard Street.”

If you would like to learn more about braille, please visit the Braille Authority of North America Website  and please read The Rules of Unified English Braille (the explanations are in print).

Robyn pilotA blog post by Museum Docent Robyn Hughes, MA, CNIB UEB Certified Educator and Braille Consultant. To read more posts by and about JMM volunteers click HERE.

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