Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators
Ramin Khodaie, the coordinator of the International Baccalaureate Program at Marymount Academy International in NDG, English Montreal School Board, and Clearpoint Elementary School in Pointe Claire, Lester B. Pearson School teacher Suzanne Ujvari, have returned from Israel. They were recipients of the Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of The Holocaust for Educators for a three week experience at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators Marymount Academy International IB Program Coordinatior and Clearpoint Elementary Teacher Return From Yad Vashem
This was the 11th year of the project and over that time a number of EMSB teachers have travelled to Israel and returned with interesting options for their respective curricula.
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. Each scholarship recipient will now be asked to create at least one teaching unit or module developed within the context learned, appropriate for the régime pedagogique.
At Marymount, Mr. Khodaie’s position requires that he implement the philosophies of the International Baccalaureate and to help both students and teachers. He is also responsible for the registration of international students arriving at Marymount Academy.
“From the very first day at classes, I was fascinated and pulled in with the topic,” said Mr. Khodaie. “From the initial discussion to ease people into the topic and the ‘Easy in and easy out’ method of teaching to the more hard and difficult facts, the lectures and lecturers were great. The fabulous tours, not to be missed, were just the icing on the cake. The Holocaust Museum and Ghetto Fighters House were unbelievable and very difficult to walk through.”
“The tours with Ephraim Kaye and Amir Golani were amazing; I just wish we had more time to spend at the Israel Museum. The historical Masada is probably one the most amazing forts I have seen in my life. If I want to list all the things that we did I will have to go back and mention each and every place we visited. For me the visit was very emotional, even now reliving moments of the trip brings back tears to my eyes. I was so fascinated and excited to meet survivors. It was an honor and a pleasure to be in presence of people who have lived part of modern history. I have learnt to be able to approach the Holocaust with better vision, talk about difficult topics with age appropriate materials and deal with deniers in a better way.”
Mr. Khodaie said that his main interest in attending this program was to come back with tools to start a unified cross-disciplinary work about Holocaust and anti-Semitism across all the disciplines in one grade of Marymount Academy International.
As Mr. Khodaie points out, the IB program addresses all subjects through six global contexts: identities and relationships, orientation in time and space, personal and cultural expression, scientific and technical innovation, globalization and sustainability and fairness and development.
Mr. Khodaie has been the IB coordinator at Marymount since 2011. Prior to that he served as Secondary Science and Technology consultant for the EMSB and worked as an assistant examiner for the International Baccalaureate Organization, Geneva (Switzerland). In that capacity he was appointed to mark externally assessed work and to moderate internally assessed components. He still fulfills those duties.
Like Marymount, Clearpoint is an International Baccalaureate school. Ms. Ujvari will be teaching FSL to Cycle 3 classes this year. Ms. Ujvari, who is fluent in English, French, Hungarian and Spanish, will be teaching French as a Second Language to Cycle 3 classes.
“The Yad Vashem intensive training in Holocaust Studies for Educators allowed me to better comprehend a human tragedy of the greatest magnitude that befell the Jewish people,” she said.
“Through this experience, I was able to demystify the unspeakable, the unthinkable event of the Holocaust, a marker of pure evil in the history of the twentieth century. A cool, calculated and highly educated leadership of the Nazi regime implemented a racist ideology in view of the radical extermination of jews from all territories under its control.”
Ms. Ujvari says that the Hecht fellowship gave her the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Israel “I am in turn committed to educate and inform my students,” she said. “I plan to implement Holocaust Education in my class by carefully guiding my pupils into this dark period of history through children’s literature resulting from child survivors’ experiences that provide an age appropriate framework to understand the profound implications of racism, stereotyping and discrimination. Holocaust education is a master template that illustrates human rights abuses in action within a highly evolved state. Through analysis and reflection, learners have the opportunity to become informed and educated to decode, recognize and swiftly take a stance to denounce social injustices, thus paving the way for future active citizenship.”