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Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators Program

Repercussion Theatre

Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators Program

MONTREAL,  MAY 9,  2012-   Three teachers, including one from the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), two from the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) and one spiritual guidance and community involvement animator from the latter, have formally been presented with scholarships for a three week experience as part of the Yad Vashem International Seminar for Educators.

Julie Etheridge, Mary Rutherford, Steve Santella and Carin Schwartz   will be in Israel from July 1 to 19. They are the 2012 recipients of the Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators Program. The teachers  will take part in  a professional development program  under the direction of the Faculty of the Yad Vashem Seminars for Educators from Abroad, International School for Holocaust Studies.  The goal of the program is to provide professional development activities to teachers for teaching about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism to students in the youth Sector. Each recipient will be asked to create at least one teaching unit or module developed within the context learned. This is the seventh year for the program, with 21 teachers having gone through it with full scholarships.

Etheridge is the head of the Visual Arts Department at the EMSB’s Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount, where she has taught since 2001. She received a Master of  Education degree  from Concordia in 2005, a  Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Western Ontario  in 2001 and a BFA degree from Concordia in 1999. She is a past winner of the Canadian Museum Association  and created a partnership with the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University) in which the students worked with the gallery professionals. This project was awarded an Honorable Mention from the Canadian Museum Association in 2005.  Artworks from her students were exhibited at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in May 2004 and May 2007. She has participated in professional development activities at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater in Mill Run,  Pennsylvania,  the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers Convention in Montreal,  the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Art Education Association.

Rutherford, Santella and Schwartz are with the Lester B. Pearson School Board. Rutherford becomes the first spiritual community animator to win a scholarship. Over the  past decade she has worked with many schools on a variety of subjects including democracy, conflict resolution, social justice issues, peace, intercultural understanding, anti-bullying, and human rights.  She earned a Bachelor of Education degree at McGill in 2002 and has received multiple  entrepreneurial grants   for various schools).
Santella has taught at Westpark Elementary School in Dollard des Ormeaux since 2006. He earned his Bachelor or Education  degree from McGill in 2006 and successfully passed the SEL (Service d’évaluation linguistique), qualifying him to teach French in Quebec. He has taken additional courses, including working with special needs students and computers in the classroom.

Schwartz earned a Bachelor of Education degree from McGill in 2007 and graduated as a member of the Golden Key Honours Society. She has been teaching English, Media and Drama at Lakeside Academy  (an International Baccalaureate School)  in Lachine since 2007. In 1999 she earned her BA degree in Communications Studies from Concordia. Two years later she obtained a diploma in Documentary Film from the Vancouver Film School. The granddaughter of German and Austrian Holocaust survivors, she is involved in Holocaust education in a variety of ways at her school.  In collaboration with other teachers, she works on cross curricular projects focused on the Holocaust.

Notes Riva Hecht: “Our scholarship program is an essential educational component for teaching about the history of the Jewish people.  We are privileged to be able to provide this professional development opportunity to Quebec teachers.”

Yaron Ashkenazi, the executive director of the Canadian Friends of Yad Vashem, notes that 350,000 educators from more than 100 different countries study at Yad Vashem each year. “You are going to be exposed to the true story of the Holocaust and be provided with the pedagogical for your schools,” he told scholarship recipients at reception held at the Hecht residence.

The Hechts invited past scholarship recipients to the reception. Each of them elaborated upon the tremendous impact the  trip had on them and how they have transferred this knowledge into the classroom. Anne Edgar, a teacher at St. Edmund Elementary School in Beaconsfield of the LBPSB, just returned from the March of the Living. This involved thousands of high school students from around the world gathering in Poland and then travelling on to Israel.


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213