Opportunities for MTFs in 2018

We are looking forward to a very busy and exciting 2018 here at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum full of programming, a new exhibition, and the Museum’s 25th anniversary. Of course, our educational programs and projects always benefit from the support of Museum Teacher Fellows. We also know that these are excellent networking and learning opportunities for you. So, if you need more experience in teacher training, writing, or facilitation, consider supporting the Museum by participating in some of these upcoming activities:

Conference for Holocaust Education Centers:
Applications are now being accepted for MTFs to be part of the Third Biannual Conference for Holocaust Education Centers (CHEC). The program will run May 22-25, 2018 at USHMM. Apply here.

Ten education staff members from Holocaust centers will attend. Each center will be paired with an MTF. Together they will work cooperatively with the Museum to continue to provide quality Holocaust education in U.S. secondary schools, build networks, and explore resources and content from the Museum and the Holocaust centers.

The Museum will cover travel, hotel, ground transportation while in Washington, DC, most meals, and per diem. The Museum will also pay a stipend for the work.  If you have questions, please contact Christina Chavarria directly. Cchavarria@ushmm.org

Holocaust Institute for Teacher Educators:
The Holocaust Institute for Teacher Educators (HITE) is designed to encourage teacher educators to use the history of the Holocaust as a model for teacher candidates; prepare teacher candidates to teach about the Holocaust in middle and secondary school (6-12) settings; use national and state content standards in teaching about the Holocaust; and consider the ethical implications for classroom teachers in teaching about the Holocaust.

The Institute is designed for teacher educators currently teaching content methods courses. The Institute explores the content, methods, and rationales for teaching about the Holocaust. By examining the Holocaust within teacher education, we have the opportunity to enrich the learning opportunities provided to P-12 children. The one-week institute includes sessions on teaching about the Holocaust in secondary methods classrooms, ethical implications of teaching about the Holocaust, uses of literature, primary sources, and technology in teaching about the Holocaust.

Each institution will be paired with an MTF. Together they will work cooperatively with the Museum to continue to prepare the next generation of educators to teach about the Holocaust through a project.

More information is forthcoming, including qualifications and duties. The Museum will cover travel, hotel, ground transportation while in Washington, DC, most meals, and per diem. USHMM will also pay a stipend for the work.

Contribute to the Newsletter:
This is a great way to network with each other! Interview another MTF about their experiences in Holocaust education. Then write an MTF Spotlight article based on your interview. Sharing experiences with the rest of the group is a great way to generate ideas and learn from and about one another.

We know you keep up with new research, literature, articles, etc. in Holocaust history and pedagogy. Well, don’t keep your ideas to yourself! Write a book review for the newsletter so other MTFs can share in your learning. You could even get feedback on your review from other MTFs before publishing it in a journal. Contact Kristin Thompson at kthompson@ushmm.org if you’d like to contribute, or fill out the form.

Book Club:
If you need the extra motivation to read the latest books, join the MTF Book Club. You’ll read a book and have a conversation over video conferencing platform, Zoom.  To join or facilitate a book club discussion, contact Kristin Thompson at kthompson@ushmm.org
or fill out the form.

2018 Arthur and Rochelle Belfer National Conference for Educators
Unfortunately, due to funding restrictions, we won’t be able to open up the application for MTF Facilitators this year. Four MTFs from Belfer 2017 will return in 2018 to facilitate. We hope to be able to open applications to facilitate the conference next year.
For questions about the Belfer Conference, please contact Cameron Walpole at cwalpole@ushmm.org.


Educational Resources from 2017 MTF Summer Institute

Chris Temple:
As part of the MTF Summer Institute the past two years, Chris Temple from Living on One, has shared his film, Salam Neighbor (“Hello, Neighbor”), and accompanying educational resources with our teachers. We wanted to make these same resources available to our entire MTF community.

Their 360 virtual reality film, For My Son, is a compliment to their feature film on refugees, Salam Neighbor and currently plays in the Museum’s Wexner Center.

Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci
Co-Founders of Living on One | Award-Winning Documentary Filmmakers
From living in a tent in a Syrian refugee camp to working as radish farmers and surviving on $1 a day in Guatemala, Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci are award-winning humanitarians, activists, and filmmakers. They demystify some of the world’s most complex situations, leaving audiences feeling more connected and empowered to make a difference.

As co-founders of Living on One, Chris and Zach have received widespread acclaim as bold storytellers and compassionate leaders of social justice – honored with the 2016 Muslim Public Affairs Council Annual Media Award, and recognized alongside Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie as two of the top 100 visionary leaders of 2015 by YPO’s Real Leaders Magazine. They have been called upon to share their expertise at TEDx, the United Nations, and the World Humanitarian Summit, and have been featured on CBS This Morning, as well as in major publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and Variety.

Chris and Zach began their journey in college, when they produced, directed, and starred in their first film, Living on One Dollar. The film followed them as they lived on a dollar a day for two months to experience life in extreme poverty. Their hands-on approach to some of the world’s most pressing issues leaves viewers inspired that their actions can make a difference. (The film is available globally on Netflix.)

Their second feature documentary, Salam Neighbor, provides an intimate look into the lives of Syrian refugees, through their lens as the first filmmakers ever given a tent and registered inside of a refugee camp. Among its accolades, the film has been endorsed by Queen Rania of Jordan and was accepted into the 2016 American Film Showcase by the U.S. State Department. Both films may be found on Netflix.

When they saw the reaction to their latest film Salam Neighbor at the more than 600 school screenings across the world, it was clear what they had to do next. They needed to inspire and empower students, because they hold the power to shift the world from apathy to action around global crises.

Their films serve as a starting point — a spark to engage students. They then took it a step further and created a 98 page Common Core curriculum for grades 7-12 to accompany Salam Neighbor just in time for the beginning of the new school year! The curriculum allows you to delve deeper into this crisis, break down fear towards refugees, and empower your students with the tools they need to actively create change.

Most recently, Chris and Zach collaborated with the UN Refugee Agency and Google to create Searching for Syria, an immersive online hub that answers the world’s top searched questions about Syria. The project was featured on the homepage of Google and reached over 5 million people in the first two weeks.

Equal parts filmmaker and humanitarian, Chris and Zach have been on the front lines fighting for human rights, and have raised over a million dollars to directly empower disenfranchised communities through microfinance, education, and refugee resettlement.

Carl Wilkens:
As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide was launched in April 1994, Carl refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church, and the United States government. Thousands of expatriates evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Carl was the only American to remain in the country. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds.

I can still hear very clearly the sound of hoes thwacking into the earth…
the men swinging them were not gardening, they were digging up mass graves…

Take a moment to try and put yourself in the shoes of the family members and friends who had loved ones taken from them. Surviving is more than just staying alive; surviving is learning how to live again.

Carl returned to the United States in 1996. After being featured in the 2004 PBS Frontline documentary, Ghosts of Rwanda, (Teacher Resource) about the Rwanda genocide, he began to receive letters, phone calls, and offers from teachers around the country to come and share his experiences with students.

In January 2008, with no end in sight to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, Carl decided to quit his job and dedicate himself full-time to accepting these invitations. He and his wife Teresa have since formed an educational nonprofit, World Outside My Shoes, to facilitate this important work.

In 2011 Wilkens released his first book entitled I’m Not Leaving  (New edition also has a Teacher’s Guide & the book is now available in additional languages, too). It is based on tapes he made to his wife and children during the genocide. Last June a new 35-minute documentary film entitled I’m Not Leaving was released about the story of his family’s journey through one of the darkest chapters of modern history. Concerning both the book I’m Not Leaving and in the new documentary by the same name Wilkens writes:
While these stories happened during the genocide, the book and documentary are not really about genocide. They are more about the choices people made, actions people took, courage people showed, and sacrifices people made in the face of genocide.

Dr. James Waller:
IMG_0320Dr. James Waller is the Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College (NH).  Keene State College is home to the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, one of the nation’s oldest Holocaust resource centers, and also offers the only undergraduate major in Holocaust and Genocide Studies in the United States.  Waller is a widely-recognized scholar in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies and has held visiting research professorships at the Technical University in Berlin (1990), the Catholic University in Eichstatt, Germany (1992), and in the George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Justice and Security at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland (2017).  In addition, he has been an invited participant in international seminars hosted by the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies at the University of Leicester in England (2006); the Institute of Sociology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland (2007 and 2008); the Bundeszentrale fur politische Bildung in Berlin, Germany (2009); the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands (2009); the University of Alberta in Canada (2010); and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London (2011).  Waller has been awarded summer fellowships by, and been a teaching fellow with, the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University (1996 and 2007-2012) and at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (1999, 2003, and 2005).

In the policymaking arena, Waller is also regularly involved, in his role as Director of Academic Programs with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), as the curriculum developer and lead instructor for the Raphael Lemkin Seminars for Genocide Prevention.  These seminars, held on-site and in conjunction with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, introduce diplomats and government officials from around the world to issues of genocide warning and prevention.  In addition, his work with AIPR also has included education and training in genocide prevention for the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Waller also has delivered invited briefings on genocide prevention and perpetrator behavior for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the CIA Directorate of Intelligence, and the International Human Rights Unit of the FBI.  In January 2009, he was selected for the inaugural class of Carl Wilkins Fellows by the Genocide Intervention Network.  This fellowship program is designed to foster sustained political will for the prevention and cessation of genocide.  Waller has led teacher training in Holocaust and genocide studies for the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center (2009 and 2012), the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (2010), the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (2010-2012, 2015), and the Zoryan Institute (2015 and 2016).  In addition, he has consulted on exhibition development with the National Institute for Holocaust Education at the USHMM, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda, and for the Genocide Prevention Institute at the Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, GA.  His fieldwork has included research in Germany, Israel, Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Guatemala.

In addition to four books, Waller has published twenty-eight articles in peer-reviewed professional journals and contributed twenty chapters in edited books.  Waller’s book on perpetrators of genocide, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (Oxford University Press, 2002), was praised by Publisher’s Weekly for “clearly and effectively synthesizing a wide range of studies to develop an original and persuasive model of the process by which people can become evil.”  In addition to being used as a textbook in college and university courses around the world, Becoming Evil also was short-listed for the biennial Raphael Lemkin Book Award from the Institute for the Study of Genocide.  Concepts from Becoming Evil, released in a revised and updated second edition in 2007, have been the basis for an international best-selling novel (The Exception by Christian Jungersen) and a play workshopped in the School of Theater, Film, and Television at UCLA.  Waller’s latest book, also from Oxford, is titled Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide (2016) and has been hailed as “required reading for all those who seek to understand and avert these atrocities in the future.”

Waller is also widely-recognized for his work on intergroup relations and prejudice.  In January 1996, while at Whitworth University, Waller developed an innovative study program titled “Prejudice Across America.”  The study program drew national media attention and was named by President Clinton’s Initiative on Race as one of America’s “Promising Practices for Racial Reconciliation.”  Many of the experiences from the study program are chronicled in his first two books, Face to Face: The Changing State of Racism Across America (New York, NY: Perseus Books, 1998) and Prejudice Across America (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2000).  Prejudice Across America was short-listed for a 2001 Outstanding Book Award from Boston University’s Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America.  While at Whitworth, Waller’s achievements in teaching and scholarship were reflected in his selection as the 1993 recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Achievement, the 1996 recipient of Whitworth’s Teaching Excellence Award, and a 2008 nominee for Whitworth’s Innovative Teaching Award.  In addition, he was a four-time institutional nominee for the CASE U.S. Professor of the Year award.  In fall 2003, Waller was Whitworth’s inaugural appointee for a four-year term as the Edward B. Lindaman Chair, an endowed, rotating chair for senior faculty who are engaged in significant national academic initiatives and who contribute to public dialogue concerning important social issues.

During 1999-2000, Waller was one of sixteen national recipients of the prestigious Pew Fellowship Award to continue his work on the psychology of human evil.  In June 2007, he received the “First Voice Humanitarian Award” from the Chicago Center for Urban Life & Culture in recognition of his work in connecting students with urban communities, particularly communities in need.  In November 2011, Waller was recognized by a California Senate Resolution for “his tireless efforts to end genocide.”  In 2012, he was Keene State College’s institutional nominee for the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize from Brandeis University, an award given in recognition of scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic, and/or religious relations.  Waller was appointed as the Centennial Global Ethics Fellow of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2013-2014.  In September 2015, he was named a Peace Ambassador by the Center for Peacebuilding in Sanski Most, Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Most recently, in April 2017, Waller was selected as the recipient of the inaugural International Association of Genocide Scholars’ Engaged Scholarship Prize. The Prize recognizes exemplary scholarship along with engagement in genocide awareness and prevention.

Waller received his B.S. (1983) from Asbury University (KY), M.S. (1985) from the University of Colorado, and Ph.D. in Social Psychology (1988) from the University of Kentucky.  He also has completed additional certification work in safety and security after violent conflict at the Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland.  He is an active member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars as well as the International Network of Genocide Scholars.  He also is a member of the International Expert Team of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada, the Advisory Board of World Without Genocide, and the Advisory Board of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention at Binghamton University.

Dr. Waller lectures and speaks on Holocaust and genocide studies, intergroup relations, and prejudice for academic, professional, and public audiences.  He has lectured at more than 50 colleges and universities, including the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Boston University, Claremont-McKenna College, Notre Dame, College of the Holy Cross, Hope College, Yale University, Columbia University, the US Military Academy at West Point, and the American University of Paris.  Recent endowed lectures Waller was invited to deliver included the 2010 Karl Schleunes Lecture at Greensboro College, the 2011 Richard J. Yashak Holocaust Lecture at Albright College, the 2015 Ralph L. Harris Memorial Lecture at Sonoma State University, and the inaugural Walter Sommers Lecture on Holocaust History at CANDLES Holocaust Museum in 2016.  In addition to a regular blog titled “Understanding Genocide” on Psychology Today, he is frequently interviewed by broadcast and print media, including PBS, CNN, CBC, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Salon, and the New York Times.

Dr. Deborah Lipstadt:
Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, has published and taught about the Holocaust for close to 40 years. However, she is probably most widely known because of the libel lawsuit brought against her (1996) by David Irving for having called him a Holocaust denier. Irving then was then arguably the world’s leading denier.

After a ten-week trial in London (2000), in an overwhelming victory for Lipstadt, the judge found Irving to be a “neo-Nazi polemicist” who “perverts” history and engages in “racist” and “anti-Semitic” discourse. The Daily Telegraph (London) described the trial as having “done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations.” The Times (London) described it as “history has had its day in court and scored a crushing victory.” According to the New York Times, the trial “put an end to the pretense that Mr. Irving is anything but a self-promoting apologist for Hitler.”

The movie DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkenson with a screenplay by David Hare, tells the story of this legal battle. It is based on Lipstadt’s book HISTORY ON TRIAL: MY DAY IN COURT WITH A HOLOCAUST DENIER (Harper Collins 2006) and recently reissued as DENIAL (Harper Collins 2016). The film was nominated for a BAFTA as one of the best British films of the year.

Lipstadt has written most recently HOLOCAUST: AN AMERICAN UNDERSTANDING (Rutgers, 2016) which explores how America has understood and interpreted the Holocaust since 1945. She is currently writing The Antisemitic Delusion: Letters to a Concerned Student.  It will be published in 2018.

Her previous book, THE EICHMANN TRIAL, (Schocken/Nextbook 2011) published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial, was called by Publisher’s Weekly, “a penetrating and authoritative dissection of a landmark case and its after effects.”  The New York Times Book Review described Lipstadt as having “done a great service by… recovering the event as a gripping legal drama, as well as a hinge moment in Israel’s history and in the world’s delayed awakening to the magnitude of the Holocaust.”

She has also published BEYOND BELIEF: THE AMERICAN PRESS AND THE COMING OF THE HOLOCAUST (Free Press, 1986) which surveys what the American press wrote about the persecution of the Jews in the years 1933-1945.  She is currently writing a book, The Antisemitic Delusion: Letters to a Concerned Student which will be published in 2018.

At Emory she directs the website known as HDOT [Holocaust Denial on Trial/ www.hdot.org ] which contains a complete archive of the proceedings of Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt.  It also provides answers to frequent claims made by deniers.

At Emory Lipstadt has won the Emery Williams Teaching Award. She was selected for the award by alumni as the teacher who had most influenced them.   

Lipstadt was an historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and helped design the section of the Museum dedicated to the American Response to the Holocaust.         

She has held Presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (from Presidents Clinton and Obama) and was asked by President George W. Bush to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She was part of a committee that advised Secretary of State Madeline Albright on matters of religious freedom abroad.

She has a B.A. from the City College of New York and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University.


MTF Mentors

                                                     2017 MTF Mentors                                                                                    Front Row: Pete Mashinski, Laurie Schaefer, Karen Levine                                   Back Row: Bob Smith, Lisa Bauman, Graeme Stacey

The Museum is excited to announce that we’ve incorporated a new mentorship component to our MTF Summer Institute program that aims to connect veteran MTFs with our newest graduating cohort of MTFs each summer.     

The goals for the MTF Mentorship program are to:

  • Encourage ongoing growth and engagement of new Museum Teacher Fellows
  • Enhance communication within the MTF community; fostering relationships between new and veteran MTFs
  • Leverage experience and expertise to expand quality Holocaust education

This past summer we invited our first group of MTF Mentors to attend a portion of the Summer Institute programming for the returning MTFs who were in DC to report on their Outreach Projects. Each mentor was assigned a group of 3-4 mentees with whom they met both individually and as a group on several occasions during the summer program. They will continue to communicate throughout the upcoming school year and beyond to answer questions, provide guidance, and assist in the planning process and facilitation of any projects that their mentees might be interested in hosting in their local communities.

Our inaugural MTF Mentors this past summer included:

  • Lisa Bauman (MTF 1998) – Overland Park, KS
  • Karen Levine (MTF 2006) – Succasunna, NJ
  • Pete Mashinski (MTF 2013) – Mechanicsburg, PA
  • Laurie Schaefer (MTF 2006) – Tobaccoville, NC
  • Bob Smith (MTF 2001) – South Deerfield, MA
  • Graeme Stacey (MTF 2015) – Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

MTF Mentors and USHMM Staff share a debriefing dinner

We asked our MTF Mentors to explain why they were excited to be a Mentor, what advice they had for the new MTFs, and in thinking back to their own MTF program experience, what they wished they had known at the time. We are sharing their responses below and look forward to working with other veteran MTFs in this role in the future!

Lisa Bauman shared, “I am so excited to be a MTF mentor because the MTF experience truly changed my professional life and gave direction to my passion for teaching about the Holocaust. I am eager to meet the new MTFs and learn from them and their experiences with teaching the Holocaust. The MTF program is truly special. Because of it, I made lifetime friends who all care deeply for each other and their students. These educators inspire me to be a better teacher. Back in 1998, when I was a new MTF, I wish I had realized how important every interaction with people and presenters at the museum would be. I was completely overwhelmed, and wish I had asked more questions and taken better notes.

Karen Levine went on to say that, “Staying connected with the USHMM past your MTF year will change you professionally and personally. It’s not just connections but friendships around the country that you will make through the USHMM. The opportunities are there for you to be a leader in Holocaust education. I am so excited to be a mentor so I can work with new MTFs. I love being part of the process.

Pete Mashinski offered this advice to the new MTFs, “I would strongly encourage MTFs to maintain a strong relationship with the museum and its staff. They are here to help us and make our jobs easier as educators by providing resources and avenues that will only improve our teaching habits. I am honored and humbled to serve as a mentor. I look forward to catching up with friends and being surrounded by a group of professionals who share my passion for Holocaust Education.

Laurie Schaefer shared that “The most important thing I want all new MTFs to know is that being involved with the USHMM will positively impact not only your teaching, but also you personally. Everything that I have learned as an MTF can also be applied to other subjects and units that I teach, as the pedagogical approach we take is that beneficial for students and teachers. This is just the beginning of the journey for you, not the end, as the Museum actually means it when they want you to be involved in leading Holocaust education. Being an MTF mentor is very exciting for me, as it means that I can be there to support you and watch you grow into the leader we know you can be! I look forward to the journey!”

Bob Smith confided that “There is no professional experience as valuable to me as my involvement with the MTF program. From the beginning, I have learned much, shared with like-minded new friends, built relationships that now approach twenty years in length. I wish that when I began I could have known how great an impact all of this would have on my classroom.  I would have savored each minute more, I think. I also wish I had known how hard I would have to work to keep my garden in good shape before and after my many adventures with the Museum! But every second has been a joy. You will find this an incredible adventure of the mind and heart.

Graeme Stacey encouraged the MTFs to stay connected. Connect with your peers, the USHMM staff, or the presenters, authors, and professors that inspire and engage you. The opportunities that arise are immeasurable; both in friendships, and personal and professional growth. So many doors have been opened, and I have gained much through my experiences (for both me and my students) because of the ongoing connections, liaisons, and friendships I have established in the pursuit of Holocaust and Genocide studies. I must give credit and thanks, for where I am today, to the friends and mentors I met in 2015 and 2016 at the USHMM.

What excites me the most about being a mentor is that I am able to once again immerse myself in this special area of study with like-minded teachers, and be led by educational experts in the Levine Institute who do not educate “top down”; the USHMM respects teachers on an equal playing field and recognizes our very diverse classrooms.

Introducing the Newest MTF Cohort (2017)

Row 1 (L to R): Brita Bostad Kienzle (ND), Lisa Henry (KY), Sandy Rubenstein (NJ), Laura Bakes-Gleissner (CO)  Row 2: Becky Henderson-Howie (NY), Alma Zero (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Evan Seitz (NY), Taylor Beal (DE), Nicole Lane (MA), Kristin Thompson (Staff)   Row 3: Jacob Kienzle (ND), Mathy Terrill (ME), Justin Loeber (NY), Megan Fairchild (KS), Peter Garry (Ireland/Belgium),  Row 4: Paul Regelbrugge (WA), Tracy Sockalosky (MA), Robin Christopher (Netherlands), Jon Workman (MA), Amy Corey (IL)

Written by the following 2017 MTFs~
Amy Corey (July 9), Mathy Terrill (July 10), Taylor Beal (July 11), Paul Regelbrugge (July 12), Laura Bakes-Gleissner (July 13)

July 9, 2017:
The 2017 Museum Teacher Fellowship Summer Institute brought together 19 incredible individuals representing ten states in the U.S., the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Ireland/Belgium (from Ireland, teaches in Belgium). They started the week as strangers, but left as a close-knit community of friends and colleagues.

As the institute opened, participants were introduced to the overarching theme of the week; Exploring how and why the Holocaust happened by examining choices made by individuals and institutions. An overview of the Museum’s guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust provided focus for creating curricula, a rubric for selecting classroom resources, and assistance in determining outreach project goals. From there, MTFs worked with new literature layers that have been added to the Timeline lesson (Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, and Gerda Weissman Klein). These new layers allow teachers to demonstrate how the stories of individuals are contextualized by events of the Holocaust and WWII. The group also learned about and discussed the Outreach Projects to be undertaken in the upcoming year and how the projects will help to bring the Museum’s mission to their local communities. A new approach this year was touring the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition (PE) only one floor each day; always framed with the same directive ~ to explore how and why the Holocaust happened by examining choices made by individuals and institutions. Day one’s programming concluded with a walking tour of selected monuments and memorials on the National Mall to reflect on how history can be interpreted, perceived, and at times, forgotten. After a full first day, the MTFs enjoyed dinner together fostering great conversations, reflections on the day, and anticipation regarding the remainder of the week.


July 10, 2017:
Day two of the Fellowship program focused on the impact that individual choices can have on others. The cohort toured the third floor of the PE before it opened to the public. This floor focuses on the years 1940-1945 and the start of the Final Solution. Following an emotional debrief about the third floor, MTFs were introduced to the lesson, “Theresienstadt: Kingdom of Deceit”. Its’ focus was the Nazi use of propaganda at this particular ghetto and individual stories, experiences, and choices that we can all learn from. The day culminated with the incredible opportunity to listen to Dr. James Waller speak about his book, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing. His talk was intriguing, eye opening, and offered new perspectives regarding if/how to include the perpetrator’s voice in classroom teaching. 


July 11, 2017:
Day three began with a morning tour of the PE’s second floor. The Fellows continued wrestling with the questions of how and why the Holocaust happened through the lens of decisions made by individuals and institutions. On the second floor, this meant looking at those who chose to form resistance groups, those who helped to rescue Jews, as well as liberation and justice. The afternoon included an intriguing session with Dr. Becky Erbelding that left Fellows eager to learn more about the upcoming Museum initiative, Americans’ Response to the Holocaust. Teachers were given a taste of what the new special exhibition, [to be open in May 2018], would look like. She discussed how teaching about American responses to the Holocaust would add a layer to our teaching that perhaps had not previously been utilized. Similarly, integrating a discussion about student activism on college campuses during that time drew parallels between the past and possible actions and feelings of youth today..

In addition, a case study on choices made by teachers during the Holocaust provided a framework to discuss implications of those choices on their students (Oath and Opposition: Education under the Third Reich). Finally, a clear focus on the importance of words as testimony from individuals in various roles proved invaluable to the MTFs as they strive to help their students understand the true value they have in a safe and free education.

July 12, 2017:
Day Four was thought-provoking and heart-wrenching. It linked history of the Holocaust and World War II to contemporary genocide and helped define the role of educators in teaching difficult subject matter.

Alma Zero, a member of the 2017 MTF cohort, was a young girl in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the civil war in the 1990s. She eloquently shared difficult stories of genocidal atrocities that engulfed her family as they were forced to flee. Alma played a video clip from the film, Miss Sarajevo, that shows her friends singing with others in the shell of a car while bombs and mortar fire are heard in the background. Now teaching in Bosnia, she discussed the challenges of teaching about genocide and mass atrocities in the locations where they actually occurred; when neighbors (& her students) are children and relatives of both victims and perpetrators.

Andrea Gittleman of the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide (CPG), provided insight into the Museum’s work on genocide and related crimes against humanity, including forecasting potential threats, influencing policy makers, and stimulating worldwide action to confront genocide. Her session also gave Fellows an idea about the dangers and difficulties the Center encounters in its work.

Alma’s presentation provided the context for the next session on two films that depict brave actions of individuals in harrowing situations. Chris Temple, Executive Director and co-founder of Living on One, screened his film, Salam Neighbor, which depicts his unforgettable experiences living among Syrian refugees in Jordan.  He also has a 360-degree virtual reality film, For My Son, that currently plays in the Museum’s Wexner Center. (For additional information about Chris Temple, his non-profit organization, Living on One, and the many educational resources available to our MTFs, visit these links: Resources and Living on One)

The Fellows then watched
I’m Not Leaving, a film that tells the story of Carl Wilkens, the only American to remain in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Wilkens spoke to the Fellows about the choice he and his family made and how they had nowhere to turn for help.  Mr. Wilkins introduced a new acronym, REI, which stands for Respect, Empathy, Inclusion; three character traits that we could reinforce among our students.(For additional information about Carl Wilkens, his non-profit organization, World Outside My Shoes, and the many educational resources available to our MTFs, visit these links: Resources and World Outside My Shoes)

To conclude, the Fellows had the great fortune to meet and hear the emotional and profound testimony of Steven Fenves, Holocaust survivor originally from Yugoslavia/Hungary.  His testimony described acts of ingenuity, sabotage, chance, and his liberation in Buchenwald on April 10, 1945 by American troops. Mr. Fenves and his wife joined the 2016 and 2017 Fellows for a reception in the Museum’s Hall of Witness in the evening.


July 13, 2017:
How Does One Say Goodbye?
On the morning of July 13th, I wrote in my journal that I was grateful for: my chance to be a part of the MTF 2017 program, a good morning workout at the gym, and confidence. Normally, I would look back on what I had done or accomplished when attempting to remember a day in my life. However, my experience of this final day of our MTF program and the week itself is dominated by one word: gratitude.

Keynote speaker Deborah Lipstadt introduced the film Denial, based on her book, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. The film examines the experiences of Dr. Lipstadt and her legal team as they navigate a defense against a claim of libel by David Irving, a Holocaust denier. The film shows the challenge of proving that Irving was the deliberate liar and racist Lipstadt claimed he was in her book, while at the same time facing the risk that the truth of the Holocaust itself would be on trial. The ins and outs Lipstadt and her team faced were confounding. For those of the Fellows who had never seen the film, it was an eye-opener into the dangerous world of denial. How and why do people deny the Holocaust? In the current state of misinformation, blatant racism, and political unrest, it makes one wonder how many young people find these deplorable websites on the internet, why they are vulnerable to them, and how to combat something so insidious.

In the question and answer session that followed, Dr. Lipstadt described what ‘hard core’ and ‘soft core’ denial are. She fielded questions on navigating climates where parents are not supportive of Holocaust education and how to educate children in relation to more recent genocides, such as the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Dr. Lipstadt was both passionate and humble and made it clear that, as educators, we have a sacred duty to REMEMBER and TEACH.

As I look at the diary entries that close the day, my comments turned to the future. I find that I was nervous about my outreach project, “Will it all come together?” “How will I connect all the dots?”  “What’s next?” It is beyond a doubt that many in my cohort had the same thoughts and feelings about the future. Bringing something so important into being is a cause for both excitement and alarm!

I also wrote about our amazing leaders and the experiences they were able to create for the us.  But the last entries of the day were about the connections I made with the other 18 special educators and human beings that I was lucky enough to meet, eat meals with, work with, negotiate meaning with, and silently process painful moments with. There is only one word left to write: Gratitude.  

MTF Book Club

By Jennifer Goss, VA (MTF 2010)
& Corey Harbaugh, MI (MTF 2013)

The energy and enthusiasm was palpable at the Museum Teacher Fellowship 20th Anniversary Event last July. Ideas flowed within every meeting regarding the state of Holocaust education at-large and connections between individual classrooms. The post-reunion challenge facing the Museum was how to continue providing opportunities for MTFs that would foster this enthusiasm and learning, even when miles apart. Certainly, social media helps to facilitate some of these interactions but it was evident that there was also a desire for more structured interactions and conversations; thus the idea for an MTF Book Club was born.

The book that was chosen for the inaugural discussion was the fictional work, Train, authored by Holocaust educator and Northwestern University professor, Danny M. Cohen. Kim Klett (MTF 2003) from Arizona and Jennifer Goss (MTF 2010) from VA, facilitated the discussion. Both Kim and Jen had participated in a book talk with Cohen the previous spring and Kim’s post-talk relationship with Danny encouraged her to reach out to see if Cohen, himself, would like to be part of the MTF conversation. Cohen’s agreement to do so solidified the choice of Train for the initial book club gathering. Even though it is a fictional work, both Kim and Jen felt that it was important for educators to be exposed to books our students, themselves, are reading and they were excited by the fact that Danny would be on-hand to include additional insight into the book’s research process.

The first MTF Book Club discussion took place on November 20 and was well attended, with 20 MTFs checking in to participate. Each participant had positive reactions to Train, viewed through a variety of different lenses. Matthew Good (MTF 2014) shared, “ I was not familiar with the Rosenstrasse protests when I read the book…after reading, I was inspired to find out more. I think the novel can drive students to investigate topics further.” Cohen pointed out that one avenue for further exploration is www.unsilence.org, the official website for his non-profit, Unsilence, that published Train. One activity on the site leads students through a webquest puzzle connected to the book that helps them learn additional information about the experiences of the various victim groups introduced in Train.

Katie Prange (MTF 2014) noted, “I loved…the fact that people fell into many different categories (not just one). It reminded me of many things we learned throughout our Fellowship training.” The book’s inclusion of several groups persecuted during the Holocaust, often with “overlapping triangles” was seen as a possible avenue for introducing students to the stories of “other” victim groups, particularly for those in a high school setting.  Additionally, the concept of protest within the book inspired Meghan McNeeley (MTF 2006) who stated, “I LOVED that this can be used to teach PROTEST.  Not just Rosenstrasse, but the protest of Jewish Americans!  Again, especially relevant today…

Relevant connections to today is a theme that continued with the second book chosen for the MTF Book Club, for which the discussion took place on February 20, 2017. The day was chosen because it is also a day identified by the United Nations as a “World Day of Social Justice”, and was the theme of the book for discussion, Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times, by Eyal Press. This discussion was facilitated by Corey Harbaugh (MTF 2013) and John Farris (MTF 2015). Both are educators in Michigan and co-direct a Holocaust education seminar for teachers every summer.

The focus of the book took participants down a very different path in discussion, and they reported that they enjoyed the opportunity to delve into a different kind of book, and a different kind of book talk. Many MTFs use terms like
perpetrator, victim, and bystander when teaching about the Holocaust, and much of the literature of Holocaust studies addresses the choices and behaviors of those three categories of people. This, in part, is what made the second book selected for the MTF book study a departure. Beautiful Souls presents case studies of individuals who acted differently than so many around them during troubling times, from the genocide of the Holocaust, to the banking fraud of the early 21st century. Press was interested in the question of what made ordinary people act with what he called “courage and conscience” rather than violence, or the violence of indifference.

The book is not the normal kind of text an MTF might choose to read, as it was written by a journalist rather than a historian, and it raises a question about individuals who acted against the norm, with courage and compassion, when the norm was to look away or be complicit in acts of evil, all the way up to genocide. As Joshua Levy points out in his essay “The Necessity of Darkness: The Pedagogic Benefit of Teaching the Horrors of the Camps”, the study of the Holocaust must be a very dark study, and to teach about rare examples of individuals of conscious runs the risk of distorting the history with examples of goodness. Still, Beautiful Souls asks readers to confront questions and historical case studies of courage in conscience, and then, by extension, in our own times. It can be helpful in our study of the darkest of times to occasionally light a candle and look to points of light, singular as they may be. Beautiful Souls did just that for our network of educators who joined the reading and the discussion.

Soon, both book club discussion and their transcripts will be accessible via the MTF WordPress site. According to MTF Program Coordinator, Kristin Thompson, 53 MTFs are currently signed up to be part of the Book Club and any MTF is welcome to join and participate as their calendars and schedules allow. If you’re not already part of the book club, but would like to facilitate a discussion or join the conversation as a participant, please fill out this form. Those interested in facilitating will have a brief meeting with Kristin to go over technical aspects and discussion guidelines, so don’t feel hesitant to take on this role. According to Kristin, “In order to eventually meet everyone’s interests and needs, all genres are welcome including scholarship, historical fiction, history, memoir, poetry, etc.”

The next book club discussion will take place in July, 2017. It will focus on the book, Born Survivors, and we are honored that author Wendy Holden and one of the Holocaust survivors, Hana Berger Moran, who is featured in the book, will be present for the discussion. They will also be the Keynote speakers at Belfer this year and have graciously agreed to be part of our MTF Book Club discussion while here in DC. At this point, Kristin notes, “We have book club facilitators for November, 2017 and January, 2018 – but titles have not been selected nor confirmed yet.”

She concludes, “I’m grateful for the enthusiasm and conversations the book club has already generated within the MTF community.  The level of discourse and questions being asked, along with the collegial spirit I have already witnessed, are inspiring and gratifying.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to purchase and read the selected works, contribute to the conversation, and facilitate the discussions.  It’s great to see MTFs engaging with one another and being introduced to people within the community that they may not have previously known.  I believe this is a positive step in strengthening our network of educators and increasing our opportunities for engagement.” As MTFs, we too are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to future talks!

Train video recording of  MTF Book Club Discussion
Train transcript of MTF Book Club Discussion

Beautiful Souls
 video recording of  MTF Book Club Discussion
Beautiful Souls transcript of MTF Book Club Discussion

Introducing MTF Class of 2016-17

MTF Community News
The USHMM selected 21 educators from across the country (and one from Poland!) to represent the 20th class of the Museum Teacher Fellowship program. The teachers came together for an in-depth, five-day experience that immersed them in historical content and pedagogical discussions. The selected educators brought a wide range of talents and experiences to the USHMM.

Day 1
As all former Teacher Fellows know, the new class of MTFs did not waste anytime and jumped right into their first session, “The History of the Holocaust in Film” presented by Laurie Schaefer. The Holocaust has been the subject of countless films, many of them controversial. From issues of historical accuracy to portrayal of graphic violence, teachers have struggled with how or if they should use these films in the classroom. Laurie showed the MTFs the progression of how Hollywood has portrayed the atrocities of the Holocaust from 1940 to the present and the rationale for using some of the films in the classroom.

  • Resources:
    • Hollywood and the Holocaust by Henry Gonshak
    • The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler by Ben Urwand

Day 2
The Fellows were given ample time to explore the Museum’s permanent exhibition and also the newest exhibit, Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity in the Holocaust. The MTFs paid special attention to the stories, artifacts, and information regarding the Some Were Neighbors exhibit as they were to develop a lesson plan for future use by middle and high school students. The Fellows were divided into groups of three and each given a different component of the Some Were Neighbors exhibit on which to center their lesson. To incorporate more of the Some Were Neighbors information into your classroom, see the website: http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/

One of the guest speakers was Dr. James Waller, author of Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing. Dr. Waller studied and helped conduct over 200 perpetrator interviews. He stressed the importance of teaching our students to not excuse what perpetrators did during genocide, but to have a deeper understanding of why perpetrators acted in such a horrific manner. The goal is to encourage students to not only question the motivations and pressures of perpetrators of genocide, but also to question our own daily actions.

One of the more light-hearted moments of the program came when the MTFs were walking to Portals for dinner and all of a sudden it started to downpour! All of the Fellows were thoroughly drenched from head to toe. What could have been a frustrating and negative experience quickly turned around when endless laughing and giggles started to erupt amongst all. We bonded very quickly after the rain storm! The cloth-covered chairs in Portals might finally be drying out.

After the downpour…

Day 3
Dr. William Meinecke, USHMM historian, spoke to the MTF Class of 2016 about Nazi Racial Ideology. He made it clear to all the Fellows that the Nazi state was a racial state whose key concepts were blood and soil. He told the Fellows how the Nazis created policies and waged war in an attempt to fulfill their goal of a pure race with enough territory to thrive. Listening to Dr. Meinecke is always informative.

One of the many highlights for the MTF Class of 2016 was a behind-the-scenes look into the Museum’s curatorial work. Since the Summer Olympics were coming right up, the curators and conservators displayed items centering around the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. The Fellows were told intriguing stories about how people from all over the world contact the Museum wanting to donate an item, and how staff members from the curatorial department will travel the globe to try and secure artifacts to be added to the Museum’s collection. The process is quite extensive to ensure the validity of every object that enters the Museum’s various exhibitions. Authenticity is of the utmost importance to the curatorial department.

Artifacts from 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

The MTF Class of 2015 joined the crew just in time to hear Agi (Laszlo) Geva’s survivor testimony. As every year goes by, hearing survivor’s speak is an experience no MTF takes for granted. The two MTF classes then spent the evening going on a “romp” through history with a guided tour of the FDR Memorial as an introduction to the Museum’s upcoming initiative and exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust, which will open in 2018. The two classes were able to get to know each other and develop special connections.

Meeting Holocaust survivor, Agi Geva
Guided tour from the National Park Service at the FDR Memorial; prep for “Americans and the Holocaust” initiative

Day 4
The pinnacle experience for many of the attendees was having the opportunity to meet the granddaughter of legendary Olympic track athlete, Jesse Owens. Marlene Dortch gave an informative sneak peek into the life of her grandfather, Jesse Owens. Not only did she tell us family stories, both about the 1936 Berlin Olympics and back at home, but she also showed the Fellows numerous family photographs.  The Hollywood film RACE had recently debuted and Marlene shared the family’s input throughout the film process. We all know Jesse Owens as an American hero, but she gave the Fellows a glimpse into the life of the man she knew as “Grandpa”. To learn more about the movie RACE check out the following website: http://www.focusfeatures.com/race

Marlene Dortch, granddaughter of Olympic athlete, Jesse Owens

In recent months, virtual reality has become very popular. The MTFs were able to experience the virtual reality film, For My Son, a 5-minute piece that tells the story of an “urban refugee” living in Jordan who fled his country. Facing the challenges of finding a new life in a foreign land, he talks of the past, present, and future in a narrative format of composing a letter to his son. The Museum is excited to offer this new, immersive technology to deepen visitors’ understanding of the refugee life and to engage their capacity to care about the victims of the Syrian crisis.

MTFs and Virtual Reality Experience (VRE)

The Fellows then participated in a film screening of Salam Neighbor with one of the filmmakers, Chris Temple (also the filmmaker of For My Son, mentioned above). Chris is the co-founder of Living on One and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Living on One is a production and social impact studio that creates films and educational videos to raise awareness and inspire action around pressing global issues. From living in a tent in a Syrian refugee camp (Film: Salam Neighbor) to working as radish farmers and surviving on $1 a day in Guatemala, Chris and Zach are pioneering a new style of documentary filmmaking, using immersive storytelling to raise awareness and inspire action. They are the first filmmakers allowed by the United Nations to be registered and given a tent in a refugee camp anywhere in the world. Many MTFs have now invited Chris to their schools, hosted a film screening for their community, and encouraged students to become actively involved. Check out the Living on One website to learn more: http://livingonone.org/salamneighbor/

MTFs (2015 & 2016) talk with filmmaker, Chris Temple, after his presentation

At the conclusion of the program, it was hard to believe how much the Class of 2016 was able to see, hear, and learn. All of the educators, without a doubt, were able to take many meaningful lessons back to their classrooms to share with their students, colleagues, and community. The Fellows went back home with new ideas, but best of all, new relationships with each other. Kristin Thompson and her talented crew did a fantastic job of coordinating this amazing opportunity for 21 educators. Please encourage the outstanding teachers you know to apply to the MTF program.

Evening reception in the Hall of Witness
MTFs (2015 & 2016) getting to know one another at the evening reception


MTF 20th Anniversary Event

MTF Community Update
Museum Teacher Fellowship 20th Anniversary, July 2016

The USHMM celebrated a significant milestone in July of 2016: the 20th Anniversary of the Museum Teacher Fellowship (MTF) program. Over 100 Teacher Fellows returned to the Museum for a three day celebration of two decades of accomplishments. The event provided a unique opportunity to reconnect, introduce new Museum resources, initiatives, and exhibits, and issue a new call to action: to work collaboratively with other Teacher Fellows, universities, Holocaust centers, and institutions to support the Museum’s educational outreach around the country.

Over the course of the three day event, the MTFs were treated to a diverse set of speakers and activities. The Fellows in attendance were given an in-depth perspective about one of the Museum’s newest films, The Path to Nazi Genocide, from director Raye Farr and Education Initiatives Director, Gretchen Skidmore. The film examines the Nazis’ rise and their consolidation of power in Germany. Using rare footage, the film explores their ideology, propaganda, and persecution of Jews and other victims. The MTF class of 2015 designed lesson plans for middle and high school teachers based on each chapter of The Path to Nazi Genocide.

Gretchen and Raye
Gretchen Skidmore and Raye Farr discuss the new film, “Path to Nazi Genocide”

The average visitor to the Museum might not realize the subtle yet meaningful changes the Museum has undergone over the past twenty years to the “Permanent” Exhibition. USHMM Exhibitions Coordinator, Ramee Gentry, gave Fellows insight as to why these changes are made periodically and how they influence the visitor experience. Fellows also learned about plans for future Museum updates.

A highlight for many Fellows was touring a new Museum exhibition, Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity in the Holocaust. This exhibit explores the motives and pressures that influenced ordinary citizens during the Holocaust. By moving beyond the traditional categories of “bystanders, victims, perpetrators”, the approach encourages a deeper reflection on the range of behaviors exhibited, the motives and pressures people faced, and choices that were available based on the context in which they found themselves. Taking the information gathered from the exhibit a step further, Dr. Christopher Browning spoke to the Teacher Fellows about his book Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. Dr. Browning encouraged the Teacher Fellows to consider the individuals and institutions who must be involved at many levels in order for genocide to occur. The newest group of Teacher Fellows, the MTF class of 2016, will be designing lesson plans for students across the country based on the Some Were Neighbors exhibit.

Nance Adler views the Cambodia exhibit.
Getting ready for evening discussion with historian and author, Christopher Browning; introduced by Stephen Feinberg
Edna Friedberg, author Christopher Browning, Stephen Feinberg, and Kristin Thompson

The 20th anniversary celebration was capped off with keynote speaker Eli Rosenbaum, Director of Human Rights Enforcement, Strategy, and Policy at the Department of Justice.  Mr. Rosenbaum asked the Teacher Fellows to ponder the question, “What is justice?”  He informed the MTFs about ongoing efforts to bring about justice even 71 years after WWII officially ended. Mr. Rosenbaum emphasized how important it is for our students to understand the many forms that justice may take. Fellows were humbled to hear Rosenbaum acknowledge the difference teachers make in the classroom and confirm how important teaching Holocaust history is. The participants conveyed their thanks for his lifelong dedication to protecting human rights.

Eli Rosenbaum discusses his life’s work of pursuing justice.

The pinnacle of the three day event was reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and being reminded why Holocaust education is more important today than ever. Teacher Fellows share the same passion with each other about passing information along to not only our students, but to our communities. The energy in the room when all of the Teacher Fellows were together was palpable: ideas were exchanged, information was shared, and thoughts were brewing on how to keep the MTF community better connected. This newsletter is one of the first steps being implemented to achieve a more unified MTF community and to increase awareness of new Museum initiatives.