JMM Insights: Wrapping up the Year in Education
This week’s edition of JMM Insights comes from Director of Education, Ilene Dackman-Alon.
My daughter is a first-year music teacher in Prince George’s County, and she texted me the other night, “I am officially done my first year of teaching.” What a milestone for her as she moves forward in her teaching career. I cannot imagine the daily challenges she faced trying to teach middle school students to play their chosen instrument over Zoom. I am in awe of my daughter and the many committed teachers who persevered this year, supporting the overall well-being and academic progress of their students.
Our JMM Education team has also been reflecting on the school year, and we are proud of our hard work this year and the connections that we have made with local students and their teachers through virtual visits, new partnerships, and our special programs. As the world shifted to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, our JMM Education Team made sweeping changes to our approach to anticipate and meet the needs of local, Maryland educational institutions and communities.
As we wrap up the 2020-2021 school year, it seems like a great time to reflect on the year and the accomplishments of our JMM Education Team. We are so proud that we worked with over 1,500 students, teachers, and guests from 25 different schools and educational institutions. The schools came from many different areas, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Howard, and Montgomery Counties, as well as Baltimore City and Washington D.C. Virtual learning also enabled students outside of the Maryland/DC corridor to visit JMM, including to students in New York, California, and even Quebec, Canada!
The virtual breakdown is as follows:
944 students, teachers and guests in Public Schools
366 students, teachers and guests in Jewish Schools
253 students, teachers and guests in Private Schools
To support student learning, the JMM Education Team created 10 different virtual programs since March 2020. Some of these programs are directly based on Museum exhibits, such as our Voices of Lombard Street, Scrap Yard, and Jews in Space programs. Some are based on amazing stories and artifacts from our collection, like the Holocaust Memory Project and the brand-new Baltimore’s Garment Industry program. We also offered tours of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, introducing students to Maryland’s oldest Jewish house of worship and the communities that gathered there. We also had the pleasure of working with Katherine Lyons and David London to reconfigure and reintroduce our Ida Rehr and Harry Houdini Living History Performances to schools.
One of the benefits of working with the teachers this year is the way we could tailor the education programs to best support teachers and their students’ learning. Many of the programs we offered this year had variations that emphasized different aspects of a topic or utilized different pedagogical methods so that our team could best meet the needs of each classroom.
In our Jews in Space virtual education program, students explore the wonder of space, discover the lives of Jewish astronauts, and imagine the future through science fiction in this tour.
We had the opportunity to forge new partnerships with schools and institutions we had never worked with before. This year we began working with Monarch Academy, a public charter school in Anne Arundel County, to craft programs specially tailored to their curriculum. With their 8th grade students, who were learning about the experiences of immigrants and refugees from around the world, we tailored a Holocaust Memory Project program to center on the experiences of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe in the late 1930s and the experiences of Holocaust survivors in Displaced Persons camps after the war. With their 7th grade students, who were studying working conditions and workers’ rights, we designed a brand new program exploring the history of Baltimore’s garment industry through the eyes of Jacob Edelman and Sarah Barron.
This spring, the JMM Education Team worked with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Park Heights Renaissance, and Cross Country Elementary/Middle School to develop and deliver a three-part program for the school’s eighth grade students, culminating with a joint program on the history of the integration of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park. We even had the honor of Baltimore City Mayor, Brandon Scott, joining us for the program on the amusement park, in which he shared his personal reflections on its history and the importance of advocacy.
We also partnered with Crofton Middle School to bring our Holocaust Memory Project program to all of their 8th grade English Language Arts classrooms as their students studied The Diary of a Young Girl and worked collaboratively to build a digital Holocaust memorial for their school.
Virtual learning and social distancing did not keep our team from hosting our special programs either! In August of 2020 and February of 2021, our team and the Baltimore Jewish Council hosted our annual Summer and Winter Teachers Institutes on the best practices of Holocaust Education over Zoom, reaching teachers from across Maryland and even from other states too. Hosting these programs over Zoom allowed us to work with national and international museums and cultural institutions to bring amazing experiences and resources for our attending teachers.
Over the course of the two programs, we worked with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, World Without Genocide, Echoes and Reflections, the Center for Jewish Education, the HERO Center, the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, Forum for Dialog in Warsaw, Poland, and Centropa, based in Vienna, Austria. In the virtual Google Classroom pages for these Institutes, teachers shared their lesson plans and provided feedback to one another, growing a community of teacher-learners in our digital spaces. These Institutes are funding through the generous support of Judy and Jerry Macks and the Joan and Joseph Klein, Jr. Foundation.
Even in the digital world, we continued the My Family Story program in partnership with Anu: The Museum of the Jewish People (formerly Beit Hatfutsot). This year two local Jewish day schools – Krieger Schechter Day School and Ohr Chadash Academy – participated in the program, helping 44 students explore their family histories and tell those stories in creative ways. We are proud to announce that for the seventh year a Baltimore student will have their art displayed as part of the Anu: The Museum of the Jewish People Virtual My Family Story display. Ellie B. from Krieger Schechter Day School won with her art display, The Berlins on the Beth El Bimah. You can view all the student projects at our digital exhibition here.
Numerous evaluation and research studies have examined the impact of museum education programs on school children, and results show again and again that museum programs make a positive difference in the lives of students.
When students go back to the classroom in the fall, schools will operate differently and be up against new challenges. As a cultural institution, we are looking forward to the upcoming school year both with its opportunities and uncertainties. As a staff, we will need to find alternative ways to keep schools engaged and continue reimaging, growing, and fostering the relationships between the Museum and schools.
In this spirit, we are starting to make plans for the programs and educational offerings in the summer and fall. In August, we are planning our Summer Teachers Institute 2021: American Discrimination During the Holocaust. Once again we are working with wonderful institutions throughout the country including the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies (ICJS), the Japanese American National Museum, the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, National WWII Museum, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to help us to plan this 3 day event. We will be developing more lesson plans in connection to the Holocaust Memory Project with the generous funding from the Crane Foundation.
As we are looking to the fall, we would love your thoughts on what kinds of resources or programs you could use in your classroom, school, or educational space. Is there a topic that you always wished we offered an education program on? Is there a different format you wish we offered programming in, such asynchronous lesson plans? Please reach out to us at email@example.com – we would love to hear from you!
Jewish Women’s Archive Global Day of Learning
Sunday, June 27th-Monday, June 28th
Join the Jewish Women’s Archive as they celebrate the launch of the expanded and renamed Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. From Sunday, June 27, through Monday, June 28, six webinars presented by expert scholars will showcase the evolution of the Encyclopedia and provide a taste of the new content. Register once and attend as many sessions as you’d like.
Esther’s Place Online:
School’s Out! Bundle
Check out the latest bundle available exclusively through the online shop.
This collection of items will keep you and your family entertained and engaged during the summer months.