Pius X teachers selected to lead Holocaust education program
Three teachers at Lincoln Pius X High School have been have been selected to lead a 2011 Memorial Library Summer Satellite on Holocaust education in Lincoln.
Jane Connealy, Katie Elsener and Tom Seib were selected as three of a dozen leaders nation, based on the strength of their proposal, and for delivering effective, professional development and a commitment to teaching social justice.
They will facilitate a week-long summer seminar titled, “There is No Future without Memory: Exploring the Holocaust and Social Justice.” Their seminar will consider connections between the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and genocide to local issues important to Nebraskans. The seminar will cover issues such as immigration and racism, and will give teachers access to resources that offer knowledge and strategies. Participants will create a network to support their efforts to advocate for social justice in their schools and communities.
A short video about the seminar, and information about the Memorial Library, the Holocaust Educators Network, and other summer satellites can be found at www.toli.us.
Teachers interested in attending can apply at: http://www.unl.edu/newp/.
February 18, 2011
By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) – During the last week of June 2011, three teachers from Pius X High School in Lincoln will instruct not students, but other teachers.
Jane Connealy, Katie Elsener and Tom Seib were tapped by the Memorial Library in New York City to design a Holocaust seminar for Nebraska educators. Similar teams will conduct seminars in 11 other states, including California and Michigan.
The Memorial Library has sponsored a two-week seminar entitled, “Reading, Writing and Teaching the Holocaust” since 2007. Each year, the National Writing Project sends out a national call inviting educators to learn more about incorporating Holocaust studies in the classroom.
“Katie and I attended in 2007,” said Mrs. Connealy said.
Mr. Seib and another Nebraska teacher went the following year.
In 2010, teachers who had participated in the initial seminar were invited to apply for an advanced course. This second session trained the educators to plan and implement a seminar for their local peers.
The Pius X trio was chosen for the state of Nebraska. They have developed a seminar entitled, “There is No Future Without Memory: Exploring the Holocaust and Social Justice.”
Their seminar will cover difficult issues such as immigration and racism, offering access to resources that provide knowledge and useful teacher strategies. Participating teachers will create a statewide network supporting their efforts to advocate for social justice in their schools and communities.
Because Mrs. Connealy, Mrs. Elsener and Mr. Seib are connected to the Nebraska Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project, the seminar will be held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. All Nebraska 7th through 12th grade educators who specialize in social studies and English will be invited to participate.
It is a professional development opportunity for teachers, who can use what they learn at the seminar to enhance the curriculum they are currently using.
“Spending a week with other enthusiastic teachers is the best possible professional development available,” Mrs. Connealy said.
“Nebraska teachers who attend the seminar will have great opportunities to grow as educators and to develop a network of supporting professionals committed to encouraging students to come to a clear understanding that it is the responsibility of citizens in any society to learn to identify danger signals, and to know when and how to react to prevent genocide and the steps that may lead to it,” she added.
Indeed, the Holocaust has proven to be a highly effective subject when it comes to teaching students how prejudice, racism and stereotyping can have extremely devastating ramifications.
“We have Holocaust units throughout our senior English curriculum,” Mrs. Elsener said. “Most seniors will have studied the Holocaust and other genocides before they graduate from Pius X High School. They are profoundly affected by this history and moved to create a better world for the 21st century.”
Mrs. Connealy agreed. “When former students write to me, it is most often to express what an impact this unit of study had on them and how it continues to be a part of their lives and their work for social justice.”
She incorporates the Holocaust into Social Literature and psychology courses. Mr. Seib teaches students the shocking realities of Nazi anti-Semitism as part of his Contemporary History class.
During the seminar, which will be held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, teachers will work together to determine what topics and content are most appropriate for their students, given various grade and developmental levels.
“Teachers need a clear idea of what they are teaching and why, as well as to whom they will teach it,” reasoned Mrs. Connealy.
“Nebraska teachers who attend the seminar will have great opportunities to grow as educators and to develop a network of supporting professionals committed to encouraging students,” she added.
The goal is to help students develop “a clear understanding that it is the responsibility of citizens in any society to learn to identify danger signals, and to know when and how to react to prevent genocide and the steps that may lead to it,” Mrs. Connealy said.
At a Catholic high school, they have the opportunity to delve into the role of the Catholic Church and individual Catholics during the Holocaust.
“The studies we have undertaken and the coursework we have put together the past two to three years since we all got involved with the Memorial Library have given us a great opportunity to explore, promote and defend the Catholic Church and its role in the Holocaust,” said Mr. Seib.
Any Nebraska educator who teaches grades 7 though 12 and would like to attend the week-long Holocaust seminar this June may learn more by going to www.unl.edu/newp or by sending email to one of the team members: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. The application deadline has been extended through April, and a small stipend is available to qualifying teachers.