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.
  • She (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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Recognizing and Responding to Injustice: Using the Lessons of the Holocaust as a Tool for Combating Contemporary Intolerance in Our Communities Today

Posted on August 24th, 2015 by

During my summer internship at the JMM, I had the opportunity to work on a pop-up exhibit in connection with the JMM’s Annual Summer Teachers Institute that focuses on best practices in Holocaust Education. After I learned how to use the museum software Past Perfect and learned about the JMM’s extensive collections, I was inspired to develop an exhibit.  The exhibit focuses on recognizing and responding to injustices in our community. It relates to the 2015 Summer Teachers Institute’s theme: Auschwitz 70 Years Later, What have we Learned? I wanted to put some of the JMM’s collections on display and give teachers an opportunity to see what objects and materials we have in the collections that relate to topics they are teaching about the Holocaust in their classrooms.

Falicia stands in front of the lobby display she created.

Telling the teachers about my exhibit.

In recent years there have been many instances of injustices in our communities: locally, nationally, and worldwide. My hope is that by examining injustices during the Holocaust we can be inspired to recognize and respond to injustices in our communities today. I encouraged the teachers to reflect on this question: How can we teach our students to recognize and become “upstanders” or activists against injustices in our communities and society?

The exhibit consisted of photographs, objects, and documents about the Holocaust. Preparing for the exhibit was a lot more complex than I originally thought it would be. Some of the objects in the exhibit include: pieces of a chandelier from a desecrated synagogue during Kristallnacht, and an uncut Star of David.  The exhibit also included archival materials…

Mass Meeting Flyer

This is a Mass Meeting flyer announcing a meeting for Jewish people in Baltimore to learn about what was happening to the European Jews.

Baltimore Jewish Council booklet

The Baltimore Jewish Council booklet was established in 1939 to create a united front against Anti-semitism during World War II and provide resources on Jewish issues.

These are pictures of the Nazi and Confederate flags to show how flags represent different things to people, and can have painful associations and connections to injustices.

These are pictures of the Nazi and Confederate flags to show how flags represent different things to people, and can have painful associations and connections to injustices.

I had a lot of support from several staff members and interns including: Ilene, Joanna, Deborah, Karen, and collections intern Kaleigh who helped me pick appropriate objects, reviewed my labels, and helped me with the installation process. I really felt like I had the support of the staff in developing my first exhibit.

Falicia and Collections Manager Joanna in the library cutting out exhibit text.

Joanna and I are cutting out texts for the exhibit.

Falicia arranging the objects in the display case.

And here I am arranging the objects in the display case.

When I installed the exhibit I was not sure how many people would be able to see it and what they would think. On Monday August 3rd over 30 teachers came to the museum for the Summer Teachers Institute. Ilene told them about my exhibit and in between workshops educators came and looked at my exhibit.

Page of handwritten comments about the display.

Teachers wrote comments about the exhibit.

I enjoyed telling the teachers about my exhibit. It was also great to hear some of the conversations they had about the exhibit and the connections they were making about injustices of the Holocaust and forms of injustice they see today. It was great to hear comments and dialogue between the teachers about what was in the exhibit and many of them were interested in seeing what else we had in our collections.

Falicia EddyA blog post by Education and Programs Intern Falicia Eddy. To read  more posts from interns click HERE.

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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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