Scott Lone: Expanding Holocaust Education in Wisconsin

Scott Lone, a Wisconsin teacher at West Bend East High School in West Bend, Wisconsin, has been teaching the Holocaust for 23 years. In 2014, Scott attended the NY Summer Seminar: “It was the best professional development I’ve ever had in 23 years of teaching. It unfolded all kinds of other opportunities that I never dreamed possible. The TOLI seminar has made me more committed to teaching the Holocaust and to asking the hard questions.”

 

Scott reflects on why the TOLI seminar was so impactful: “The history of the seminar’s setting, the ability of Program Directors Sondra and Jennifer to create a welcoming, affirming atmosphere that encourages serious dialogue about difficult issues, and the support of the Board of Directors.” Inspired by TOLI, Scott incorporates reflective writing into his teaching.  “It taught me that it’s okay to encourage students to explore and answer the hard questions about difficult issues.”

 

Scott began his teaching career in 1997 with a US history course covering Reconstruction through the present day. While World War II was within the curriculum, the Holocuast was only briefly touched upon in the textbook.  “After completing my first year of teaching US History, I knew there was so much more the students needed to know about the Holocaust and began my own personal journey of learning more.  Each year I added more to the World War II unit and many of the additions focused on expanding my students’ knowledge of the Holocaust.  I still teach US History and what started out in 1997 as two days teaching about the Holocaust has turned into three weeks.  I’d like nothing more than to teach a semester course on the subject because I believe what occurred during the Holocaust and its lessons are relevant for all future generations.”

 

In 2016 Scott attended the TOLI Leadership seminar, establishing the Wisconsin Satellite Seminar the following year. Scott came back to NYC to attend the Leadership seminar again in 2019. “It’s very different being a teacher of teachers.  It’s really important to make sure that you’re also a student as you teach, which means listening, watching, observing and inviting others to share their expertise and to lead.”

“TOLI is constantly examining the social issues in our world and redefining itself so its teachers can access resources to assist them in helping their students process what’s happening in our world.  TOLI was relevant yesterday, it’s relevant today, and will be relevant tomorrow and in the future.”

 

As an alumni, Scott has taken advantage of the TOLI mini-grant program five times. “I work closely with an art teacher who participated in the Wisconsin summer seminar in 2018. Each spring we determine what our theme for the following spring’s art show will be. In the Fall we begin to work with teachers in their respective disciplinary areas to roll the concept of the art show out.  We gather around the table and facilitate the conversation, we ask those teachers how they think the theme and resources can be implemented in their classrooms to complete an art project.”

 

In 2019 The West Bend High Schools created and hosted an interdisciplinary unit with a concert and art gallery on themes of brokenness and wholeness specifically relating to the Nuremburg Laws, Kristallnacht, and the Rwandan Genocide. Nearly 850 students participated in the event, which was attended by 390 guests. 

 

Music performed during the concert focused on The Holocaust and Jewish cultural music. In conjunction with the concert, the art, social studies, English, culinary arts, and special education departments held the third annual Holocaust Art Show. The theme of the 2019 show was “Broken Glass, Broken Lives – Putting the Pieces Back Together” and focused specifically on the restrictive Berlin ordinances and Nuremberg Laws culminating with Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass in November, 1938. English students focused on Kristallnacht and the Places of Remembrance project in Berlin, created by Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock. The social studies and special education students focused their study on the destruction of the Rwandan Genocide and the resiliency of the Rwandan people as they put their lives back together and the reconciliation that is occurring between the Hutus and Tutsis. Art students undertook an in-depth study of Stih and Schnock Signs of Remembrance Project as well as the events that occurred during Kristallnacht.

 

Throughout the gallery, art pieces interpreting a number of signs from Stih and Schnock’s project were combined with select written pieces authored by English students reflecting on what it might be like to be a Jewish teenager having to live under the progressively restrictive ordinances imposed by the Nazis. A separate section was reserved for the social studies and special education select written pieces that were based on a genocide unit of study and photographs from the Rwandan Genocide and its aftermath used as writing prompts. The photographs used as prompts were prominently displayed with the corresponding written pieces. The exhibit also featured an “interactive” area where patrons were able to create a piece of art on a mirror tile interpreting their experience visiting the gallery. Across the gallery there were broken windows, glass, and mirrors reminding patrons that as governments exercise unchecked power, lives can be easily expended and brokenness can consume society.

 

For Scott, one the greatest assets TOLI provides is it’s extensive network of teachers all over the world. “The network of TOLI teachers is one of its biggest assets and to be able to collaborate with fellow TOLI teachers, or just call another TOLI teacher to share your joy or frustration, makes tackling the tough issues much easier in the classroom.  Recent years have seen TOLI reach out to a global audience, so the organization’s voice and presence is becoming more well known and appreciated.   When teachers have access to outstanding professional development and other resources, they learn more, they know more, and they do better as teachers.  TOLI has helped its teachers do all of that.”

 

This year, the 2020 Wisconsin satellite seminar is cancelled due to concerns regarding Covid-19. In place of a full satellite seminar, a book study will be held for the teachers who have been accepted to the 2020 seminar as a way to keep the teachers connected and lay the foundation for the content of the 2021 seminar. 

The photo is © Zaitz Photography.

 

Contact

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

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