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University of Kentucky aims to enhance Holocaust education, offers workshops to K-12 educators

Source: WPSD Local 6 By: Charity Blanton

LEXINGTON, KY —“Given the current public discourse, it is ever more important to help students understand the ways simple, everyday acts have the power to both contribute to and prevent horrific acts of genocide. Each of us can positively impact the world through how we speak to and treat others.” 

Those words are from Janice Fernheimer, co-director of a University of Kentucky-led training initiative aiming to enhance K-12 Holocaust education through in-person and virtual workshops. The workshops are running from late January to early June of 2023. 

According to a Tuesday release, the goals of the initiative are three-fold:

  • Recruit and train teachers to ethically educate about the Holocaust 
  • Create curricular materials that can be used by fellow teachers
  • Share materials on the UK Holocaust Education website

The initiative is funded by a grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund, the release explains, and aims to empower Kentucky teachers to “meet the challenges of state-mandated legislation” on Holocaust education.

The Ann Klein and Fred Gross Holocaust Education Act was passed in 2018, requiring Holocaust education to be taught in all middle and high schools. 

According to the release, Jewish Studies faculty members and the UK College of Education have been collaborating with other educators across the commonwealth to develop workshops with Kentucky’s academic standards in mind. 

Thanks to $400,000 in additional funding recently received from the Jewish Heritage Fund, the project has been extended for another year. 

In a statement included in the release, professor Kathy Swan explained participating educators can expect to “deepen their knowledge of one of the most harrowing and defining events in world history,” learning “instructional approaches that engage students on the questions that still linger a century later.”

According to Swan, the initiative offers teachers a good foundation on approaching the hard history of the Holocaust in an “intellectually meaningful and grade-appropriate manner.”

Kentucky educators interested in participating can click here for a calendar of events and registration links.