Holocaust workshop hosted by UAH draws teachers from across Northern Alabama

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UAH’s Department of History and Division of Professional and Continuing Studies hosted “Teaching the Complexities of the Holocaust,” a professional development workshop held last week and attended by 75 teachers from across North Alabama.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Last week, The Department of History and the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) hosted a professional development workshop entitled "Teaching the Complexities of the Holocaust" for 75 middle and high school teachers from across northern Alabama. Among the counties represented were Montgomery, Lawrence, Lauderdale, Jackson, Calhoun, Morgan, Cullman, DeKalb, Marshall, Blount, Limestone, and Madison.

Designed to provide teachers with resources and pedagogical approaches to teaching the complexities of the Holocaust, the workshop was facilitated by regional educators from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the nation's premier Holocaust education center. It included lesson plan ideas and resources, a presentation by Holocaust survivor and Birmingham resident Robert May, and networking opportunities. It also addressed a question commonly asked by middle and high school students: why didn't Jews "just leave"?

I knew that this would be an excellent outreach opportunity…to help teachers gain access to excellent pedagogical resources and learn how to teach the Holocaust to young people more effectively.

Dr. Molly W. Johnson
Associate professor of history

Kim Estelle, who teaches social studies and reading at the Academy for Academics and Arts in Huntsville, says she appreciated learning about new readings to use in the classroom. To help her students understand why Jews did not "just leave," she plans to use Salvaged Pages, a collection of diary entries by young people in Nazi-occupied Europe. "I think my students will really connect to these writings by young people," she says. "They will be able to take a short walk in their shoes, so to speak."

The workshop was one of four held across the state as part of a series organized by the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, the Alabama Holocaust Commission, and the USHMM.

"When the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center approached me to see if UAH would serve as one of the sites for its biannual workshop on teaching the Holocaust, I was thrilled," says Dr. Molly W. Johnson, associate professor of history and German history specialist. "I knew that this would be an excellent outreach opportunity for the History Department, in cooperation with the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies, to help teachers gain access to excellent pedagogical resources and learn how to teach the Holocaust to young people more effectively."


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