Corey Harbaugh: leading the way in Michigan

Corey Harbaugh recently served as local co-host of TOLI’s Leadership Conference for Holocaust Educators held in Detroit in October 2017.

Corey is accustomed to serving in leadership roles. In the fall of 2016, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed him to the Governor’s Council on Genocide and Holocaust Education, which guides the way Michigan educates its students about the impact of the Holocaust and other genocides on their world. Though a tremendous honor, for Corey, the appointment has also been an opportunity to take a commitment he made at the 2009 New York City Summer Seminar one step further.

It was during the summer seminar that Corey first listened to survivor testimonies, “stories and voices I still hear,” he says. The experience compelled him to take up the challenge of what TOLI’s Director Sondra Perl calls “responsibility and ‘response ability” by doing something in the design and delivery of instruction, the area of education where he is most drawn.

Corey has since participated in additional TOLI programming, including the Leadership Institute, and in 2012, a life-changing trip to Poland and Israel for teachers, most of them satellite seminar leaders. He credits TOLI for steering him in new, meaningful career directions, and deeply values the relationships he has nurtured with faculty and fellow educators in the Holocaust Educators Network (HEN), who continue to influence who he is, both personally and professionally. Still, he reflects that “all the work I do in Holocaust education started at Olga’s table” during that first seminar. “My place at her table will always be important to me.”

The drive to grow and learn is what motivates Corey as an educator, and is an integral part of who he is as an individual. “I have a necessary dual relationship with Holocaust and genocide education,” he observes. “I must remain a student of history, even as I work to continuously improve as a teacher of that history. Every bit of new information or answer to a question that comes my way only points to the next one.”

Corey, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College and a master’s in educational leadership from Western Michigan University, serves as the director of teaching and learning for Fennville Public Schools. He is a USC Shoah Foundation Master Teacher and also a regional educator/teacher fellow of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. His chapter on pedagogy appears in As the Witnesses Fall Silent: 21st Century Holocaust Education in Curriculum, Policy, and Practice (UNESCO, 2015).

Together with John Farris, who also served as a co-host of the Leadership Conference, Corey co-leads the TOLI Satellite Seminar in Michigan, which has had enormous impact on local educators. In fact, when they think about Holocaust education in the satellite program, they see it within the context of their places in Michigan. “That the process is so incredibly personal is what makes the work so compelling,” he believes. He is proud of what they have accomplished by “connecting teachers to the generosity and resources and vision that is TOLI.”

Corey believes that all of this learning and work comes with a great sense of community. “My HEN community is full of people on the same journey I am. I’m in it with them, and I’m in it with my students and with the teachers in our satellite seminar every summer.”


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)