Middle School Teachers ‘Face History’ During Holocaust Seminars

Middle School English Department Chair Kathleen Devine and Social Studies teacher Anne Franzen traveled this summer to seminars focused on The Holocaust and Social Justice.  Anne Franzen traveled in June to New York City for a twelve-day seminar focused on helping teachers to think creatively and collaboratively about how they teach the Holocaust, genocide and social justice. The seminar, established by The Olga Lengyel Institute, was created to educate students and teachers around the world about human rights and social justice through the lens of the Holocaust and other genocides.

“TOLI was an intensive program that introduced me to Holocaust studies from a different point of view - the stories of the survivors. Each day we met a holocaust survivor, heard their stories, wrote reflections and poetry on those stories, and then learned different ways to teach those stories,” said Franzen.

The twelve-day seminar from June 16-28 was open to middle school, high school and college educators from across the United States. Speakers included:
  • Mehnaz Afridi on Christian, Jewish, Muslim dialogue
  • Irving Roth on surviving Auschwitz
  • Racelle Weiman on acts of resistance
  • Murry Sidlin on the role of music in the Holocaust
  • Ari Shonbrun on rescue at the Twin Towers
  • Rabbi Greg Wall on Jewish culture and klezmer music
Franzen and Devine attended the Facing History program in Newton, Massachusetts. The two were awarded a grant by The Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews. This program focused on how educators teach the Holocaust, including content as well as specific strategies for lesson implementation.
“I have already started to incorporate information from both seminars into my lessons for the year. I am beginning world history with an exploration of identity and group identity. I will continue throughout the year to weave lessons on primary sources and writing reflections. I have rewritten our DC preparation (the 8th grade will be going to DC November 5) to include several in-depth lessons on the Holocaust as well as on World Democracy,” said Franzen.
A premier PK3 - Grade 12 independent, coeducational day school with campuses in North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Since 1960, The Benjamin School has provided a challenging college preparatory education to a diverse student body in a structured, nurturing community environment.