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Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies Presents 2011 Holocaust Educators Awards

Posted 04/03/2011
Posted by David Isgur

The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University will present its annual Holocaust Educators Awards to six highly deserving middle school and high school teachers from around the state of Connecticut at a special ceremony at the University’s 1877 Club on Sunday, April 3, at 1:30 p.m.

Cori Krause, who teaches English at Conard High School in West Hartford, is the 2011 Joseph Zola Holocaust Award winner. Her innovative program, “A Multimedia Approach to Studying the Holocaust through Personal Narratives” reaches more than 400 students in the ninth grade. Her program incorporates the reading of memoirs of Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust and culminates with final presentations by students on their subjects.

Sierra Carr Thomsen, who teaches at The Kent School in Kent, is the 2011 Ruth Korzenik Memorial and Joseph Korzenik Holocaust Educator Award winner. She has developed her award-winning curriculum, “Defining Justice and Determining Responsibility,” as part of a history elective on International Relations. The unit compares the Nuremberg Trials with other historic and contemporary International Criminal Courts and Tribunals, encouraging students in the 12th grade to examine how the international community strives to attain justice and assign accountability.

Ramona Puchalski Piretti, an English teacher at Conard High School in West Hartford, is the recipient of a special project development grant this year, for her curriculum “Fragile Lives Mural,” an artistic project that incorporates art and poetry to encourage students in the 9th grade to examine the role of the study of genocide and the protection of human rights in building a better future.  The culminating project will be a mural that will become a permanent part of the Conard High School community. 

Professional Development award winners this year include Brigid Kennedy from Conard High School in West Hartford, for her curriculum, “A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words;” Robert Loebell, an art teacher at Hall High School in West Hartford, for his curriculum, “Imagining a Monument;” and Andrea Eisen, a teacher at Temple Israel Religious School in Wilton, for her project, “The Holocaust and Prayer.”  Professional Development Holocaust Educator awards are intended to encourage teaching professionals to do research in order to develop new courses for middle and high school students. Often the awardees attend the University of Hartford’s Holocaust Educator Workshop in the Fall and submit a course proposal that they would like to develop for the coming year. All awardees are invited to be present at the next Holocaust Educators Workshop sessions to share their insights.

A special citation honoring the work of Michael Heitz, an award-winning Holocaust educator in Eppingen, Germany, and recipient of Germany’s prestigious Obermayer Award for Holocaust Education, will be issued as part of this year’s awards program.

The award winners will have an opportunity to speak about their educational projects and schools. They were chosen from a group of semi-finalists whose work was of an extremely high quality, in part, because of the work done at the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies’ annual Holocaust Teachers Workshop.

At the last day-long workshop, area teachers learned about ways to teach about the Holocaust in middle and high school curricula in social studies, language arts, art, history, and other disciplines. This past year’s Holocaust Teachers Workshop featured presentations from scholars from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Central Connecticut State University and the University of Hartford, Avon High School, and the Commission on Jewish Education & Leadership of Greater Hartford. Seventy-five teachers, faculty and staff attended the one day workshop on October 25, 2010 held on the campus of the University of Hartford, which also featured a discussion with award-winning filmmaker Steve Shaw and Rabbi and Mrs. Philip Lazowski on the new short documentary and teaching tool based on the story of the Lazowskis, Faith and Destiny.

Thanks to the generosity of David Chase, the Ruth Korzenik Memorial Award was established to honor the work of a teacher in middle or high school in the teaching of the Holocaust. Thanks to the generosity of Joseph Zola and Matthew Rubin and their families, the Zola Award and professional grants support an award for an established middle or high school curriculum on the Holocaust or to support the development of a curriculum on the Holocaust. All awardees are invited to teach at the next Holocaust Educator Workshop at the University of Hartford on Monday, October 31. 

The awards and workshop program at the Greenberg Center is now one of the most successful Holocaust Education programs in the state having reached thousands of middle and high school students in the state of Connecticut and the region. Since the program began, more than 30 different schools in five states, Israel, and Europe have had educators honored.

For more information on the awards, development grants and the upcoming workshop, contact Avinoam Patt at the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, at or 860.768.4964.