Monday, January 10, 2011

Letter to the Holocaust Center from a teacher

Dear Holocaust Center,

I just have to take a few minutes to tell you how thankful I am for the work you all do and for how much you have done for me. This week I began teaching my most favorite teaching unit – the Holocaust and The Diary of Anne Frank. The first year I taught the diary was only about five years ago. I’d read the story myself, knew it was a good one and jumped in with my classes not really knowing what I was doing because deep in my heart I knew studying the book / play was far more/bigger than reading and writing. I didn’t know where to begin, but being someone with a deep faith, I knew God could use whatever I would do!

(Photo - Debbie Carlson, center, in Prague this past summer studying the Holocaust on a program sponsored by the Holocaust Center and Museum Without Walls.)

Fortunately, someone put me in touch with the WSHERC. I began taking every class I could and started soaking up all of the information and passion for the subject. It didn’t take long before I realized that Holocaust education and ALL that it encompasses was why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. The very first paper I wrote when I started my Masters in Teaching program was about my desire to change lives and lead students to be responsible, caring citizens of the world. I’m sure most teachers feel the same way when they start out! When I started taking the classes and workshops you offered and used your resources, it all came together. You provided me the platform I needed to fulfill what I really care about as a teacher.

This week, as I stood among my students hoping I wouldn’t cry when I tried to tell them how important this unit is to me and what I hope they will get from it – I realized you all as individuals and all of the work done by the center have become my backbone!

I had my students do a little exercise where they listed some of the things they have “heard” about the Holocaust. As I began to clarify some of their many misconceptions I realized how I was using so much of what I learned through my trip and the workshops I have attended. I feel informed! I’ve been part of bigger discussions that give me a better or different perspective to share with the kids. I am so much more confident this year – yet I still carry on with fear and trepidation because I want to make sure that everything I say and do will be a positive learning experience for these young lives!

So – thank you to each of you as individuals for your commitment to the subject and for your friendship and support. Thank you WSHERC for being my source and my resource! You make what I want to do possible and you make me more of the teacher that I so long to be!

Looking forward to years of a relationship with you all,
Debbie Carlson
Meridian Middle School, Kent

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