Crossing Lines: Tools for Teaching Tough Topics

Date: June 18-22, 2018
Location: Sacramento, California

The overarching goal of our seminar, now in its fifth year, is to promote school site leadership in teaching global acceptance and writing for change. A secondary goal is to help students make connections between historical events of the past (“then and there”) to more recent events (“here and now”). To bring the lessons of the Holocaust into a 21st century context, we will focus on the common threads between the Holocaust, the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, and the “Secret War” in Laos, a little known legacy of the Vietnam War.

We are delighted to have Sam and Carol Edelman, from The Center for Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights, and Tolerance, once again joining us as our opening keynote speakers.  The Edelmans will set the context for our “crossing lines” theme through a Holocaust lens and beyond.  Holocaust survivor Bernard Marks is also joining us this year to share his memories of Nazi death camps and lessons learned on  survival, resistance, and resilience. Marielle Tsukamoto will join us again to share her personal story of exclusion and forced removal of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Hannie Voyles, Holocaust witness and survivor during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, returns to our seminar this year as our closing keynote speaker to share her inspiring testimony and heartwarming poetry.

Throughout the week, discussions and alignment of lesson development with the Common Core State Standards will challenge traditional classroom barriers by weaving  in technology, social justice, and writing for change across curriculum lines.

Applications for 2018 are now open!




  • Gail Desler

    Gail Desler is a technology specialist for the Elk Grove School District (California). Using technology to help students cross the line from bystander to upstander is central to her workshops. Her passion for teaching for social justice has been nurtured by the Area 3 Writing Project, the National Writing Project, and the Memorial Library.

  • Pam Bodnar

    Pam Bodnar is a middle school counselor at Marsh Jr. High in Chico California. She is a passionate advocate of social justice and cultural awareness. Pam is dedicated to training student peer mediators as peace ambassadors through Holocaust Education programs and international travel experiences.


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)