MONTREAL, AUGUST 30, 2011- Seven teachers from Quebec, including two from the English Montreal School Board, returned from Israel in July for a three week experience as part of the Yad Vashem International Seminar for Educators.
From the EMSB, teachers Jason Lipstein (General Vanier and Pierre de Coubertin Elementary Schools in St. Léonard) and Stacey Blumer (Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North) were selected as recipients of the 2011 Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators Program. The Hechts also sponsored two teachers from the Lester B. Pearson School Board: Anne Edgar (St. Edmund Elementary School in Beaconsfield) and David Barbiero (Beaconsfield High School). Two others were from French schools and third from the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.
The teachers took 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 now be asked to create at least one teaching unit or module developed within the context learned at the Yad Vashem experience for implementation in the classroom.
“My intention this year is geared towards my upper level, Cycle 3 students, “ said Lipstein, who is a music teacher “They will be learning songs of the Holocaust and singing them, both in class, and in public performance. We will also be having in-class learning on what went on in inside the camps and ghettos with a focus on the musicians themselves, who they were, what their backgrounds were, who they played for, what obstacles they were faced with day in and day out and what role they played in ‘the resistance’ against the Nazi regime. We will focus on the music that was played, and how it was used to send out messages from the victims of the Shoah themselves. We will ask questions such as, ‘How did the music of the Holocaust survive?" and "What inspired these people to compose music while living under such brutality?" We will have open dialogue, and discussion in order to try to grapple some of the questions and difficulties raised with this most sensitive topic and how all of these great ‘musicians’ weren't just ‘musicians’ -they were people and how they were all led down the road to the inevitable final solution.”
As for Blumer, she says “the seminar invoked a spirit and passion that I am only too eager to share with family, friends and of course any future students that I may teach. Each lecture, survivor testimony, and guided tour helped to solidify the connection between the ability of the Jewish people to overcome persecution and the creation of Israel as a Jewish state. Using Echoes and Reflections and other teaching tools and strategies, I hope my students can learn to treat others with dignity and respect in an effort to combat prejudice and discrimination in our society today.”
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.”