Diane Williams receives Human Rights Educator of the Year award
Diane Williams, a teacher from ANSER Junior High in Boise, Idaho, first began working with the Idaho Human Rights Education Center (IHREC) when she received a Fullbright to study South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its commitment to restorative justice, and the IHREC provided funding to help document her trip. Over time, Williams began to deepen her relationship with the IHREC, even more so after she returned from the Memorial Library summer seminar. “I had never taught the Holocaust before coming to the Memorial Library,” Williams says, “but when my school’s curriculum changed I knew I needed to find myself surrounded by educators and experts in Holocaust education… My entire teaching year is shaped around identities – individual, group, cultural and institutional – and how these identities shape our understanding of justice. This is a big idea that I was able to formulate while at the summer seminar.”
After participating in the seminar, Williams combined her knowledge of Holocaust education with her involvement at the IHREC, whose mission is to promote respect for human dignity and diversity through education and to foster individual responsibility for social justice and peace. Her students painted a human rights mural for the building and now sponsor an annual Youth for Human Rights Celebration at Idaho’s Anne Frank Memorial. Williams continues to work with Boise youth and Holocaust educators across the nation, and in recognition of her achievements, she received the 2011 Idaho Human Rights Educator of the Year Award.
Her acceptance speech highlights her involvement with HEN: “with the generous support of the Memorial Library and the Holocaust Educators Network of New York and the local support of many community members, we hosted the first Holocaust/Social Justice Summer Workshop for 20 educators throughout Idaho. This summer we will host the second summer workshop with 20 new educators – and the ripple effect continues. So you see, the power of youth is real. It’s inspiring. And although I am old(ish), I get to be part of youths’ energy and their visions. I get to experience HOPE on a daily basis!”