On November 6th I attended the Holocaust Educators Workshop. The main speaker was Norman Conard, an American educator and director of the Irena Sendler Foundation in Kansas. He talked about Life in a Jar, a theatrical production that has had far-reaching effects and impacted many lives. Conard told us how it all began from a Grade 9 school project, and the curiosity of three young students who wanted to learn more about Irena Sendler, a woman who rescued many Jewish children from Warsaw.
I am not an educator, but as Office Manager of the Dartmouth Learning Network I am hugely involved in the life of the school. The subject matter covered was intensely emotional. When it is introduced into the curriculum it will undoubtedly spill out of the classroom as the students discussions continue into the hallway and lunchroom. I’m very grateful for the chance to attend the workshop alongside the DLN teachers, as I can be part of continuing these discussions. I can tell how I felt when I held a jar in which Irena Sendler hid the names of some of the 2500 children she rescued from the Warsaw Ghetto. Another relic I handled was a tiny spoon, cherished by a survivor who Sendler rescued as a baby – she was too young to remember the parents who gave her up to save her life. They gave her the engraved spoon so she would at least know her name and date of birth.
The teachers will use what they learned as a jumping off point for project based learning. Hopefully, the students will be excited at the prospect and will tell me about their ideas for their own project.
The Azrieli Foundation donated classroom sets of memoirs and diaries written by survivors of the twentieth-century Nazi genocide of the Jews of Europe who later made their way to Canada. Edna LeVine, Director of Atlantic Jewish Council, gave us the background of the Azrieli Foundation and discussed meeting some of the authors, particularly one who lives in Halifax. I have catalogued the books and look forward to seeing how they are introduced into the classroom.