Area Teachers To Be Honored For Outstanding Holocaust Education

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (From FAU) — Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education will host its annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner on Thursday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lakeside Terrace and Banquet Center, 7880 Glades Road, Boca Raton. Teachers, families, Holocaust survivors and students will gather to celebrate each other and to recognize the exceptional work of this year’s recipients of the Gutterman Family Outstanding Holocaust Educator of the Year Award. Each year, the Center recognizes outstanding school teachers who have demonstrated positive impact on their schools and the wider community in the field of the Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education. The highly competitive Gutterman Family award enables winning teachers to study at Holocaust-related sites in Europe. The award is funded by Arthur Gutterman, an FAU benefactor whose generous contributions help sustain the Center and its programs. The Center relies on private donations to provide professional development programs for teachers, and classroom resources for teachers and students to support Florida’s mandate for Holocaust education.

“This was the most amazing presentation I have ever seen for the awards,” Gutterman said. “It renews my faith in how Holocaust and Human Rights are being taught.”

Rosanna Gatens, Ph.D., director of the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, said she believes it is important to recognize K-12 teachers who go above and beyond the requirements of the Holocaust education mandate.

“Each year, we celebrate the accomplishments of these outstanding individuals who are truly making a difference in the lives of their students, in their schools and in the world,” Gatens said.

The 2014 awardees are:

· Adina Baseman – is a fifth-grade educator at Tropical Elementary School in Plantation. On her own initiative, she developed grade-level Holocaust curriculum, and also acquired Holocaust-oriented videos through grants to engage students in Holocaust education. She integrates survivor testimonies, visual presentations, and music, to which students have responded enthusiastically. She recently taught the novel Wonder to initiate conversations about bullying, empathy, and acceptance of differences. Considering its effectiveness, she collaborated with her guidance counselor, and created a club for fifth graders called “The Wonder Kids Club”to encourage students to create a caring and compassionate school environment. One of Baseman’s students had this to say about her teacher, “She makes learning about history so enjoyable. This has been the best year I ever had.”

· Leslie Rheingold –– is a Holocaust studies and language arts educator at Cypress Bay High School. Holocaust education is a passion for her professionally as well as personally, and her colleagues note that her lessons go beyond the facts of the Holocaust to convey a sense of humanity that students adopt and carry over to their other classes. Rheingold lobbied for her course, “The Literature of the Holocaust and History of the Holocaust” to be taught at Cypress Bay High, where it was implemented in 2006. Since then, the class has been so intriguing and held in such high regard that students have been placed on a waiting list to attend her class. Rheingold was awarded the Broward County Holocaust Educator of the Year in 2010, and testimonies from her students reveal the impact she has made on their lives. An exchange student who decided to take Rheingold’s class, “History of the Holocaust,” had this to say about her class: “I took this class because I am very interested in this topic. Since we speak about it often in schools in Germany, I wanted to know what students in the USA were taught about the Holocaust … I learned so much because she had a great concept of dealing with this complicated topic … she was respected and loved by the entire class because of her warm, lovely, friendly and fun attitude.”

· Michael Klein – teaches in the Social Studies Department of Olympic Heights Community High School. His involvement with Holocaust studies curriculum extends back to 1980, when he created and implemented curriculum for the first Holocaust course in the HorizonsUpward Bound program in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. During that same time period, he was a founding member of the Children of Holocaust Survivors in Michigan (CHAIM) from 1980 to 1982. Throughout the course of the 11 years he has taught Holocaust Studies at Olympic Heights, Klein has persistently strived to improve his knowledge in the field of the Holocaust and Human Rights education by attending numerous teaching development workshops and seminars on these topics. He is currently a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), and has visited Holocaust memorial museums throughout the country. Klein is also a member of NEXTGENERATIONS, a local organization composed of children and grandchildren of survivors. Olympic Heights’ principal Dave Clark said, “Mr. Klein does a phenomenal job using the lessons of the past to bring understanding and tolerance to his students’ consciousness.” Klein is currently developing curriculum for a new course on ethics at his school.

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