Abington School District Receives First “Excellence in Education Award” from the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center

At the School Board meeting last night, Dr. James Melchor, Assistant Director of Curriculum, provided information on the award the district received last week for our groundbreaking Holocaust and genocide education program.

Dr. Melchor stated that at the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center’s Fifth Annual Educators’ Luncheon, Abington School District was presented with the Center’s inaugural “Excellence in Education” award for its pioneering efforts in the development of an internationally recognized Holocaust curriculum, educational programs, and professional development for staff.  In presenting the award, the Center’s president, Mr. Chuck Feldman, noted Abington was one of the first school districts in the country to provide Holocaust and genocide education to students in grades 5 through 12.

Accepting the award on behalf of the school district, Dr. Sichel reviewed the history of Abington School District’s instructional program regarding Holocaust awareness, from development of a Holocaust Curriculum Committee in the mid-1980s that led to the teaching of the history of the Holocaust as a mandated, district-wide curricular initiative beginning in 1990, to curricular work which has resulted in lesson updates to integrate Promethean Board technology and videotaping of presentations by Holocaust survivors.  Dr. Sichel noted that Holocaust-related instruction occurs in an age-appropriate manner through which students learn historical background and perspective and make connections to contemporary issues regarding tolerance, prejudice, diversity, and personal responsibility.

In addition to the school district receiving the “Excellence in Education Award,” Pennsylvania State Representative Madeleine Dean was also in attendance at the luncheon to present Abington School District with a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in recognition of the District’s leadership role in Holocaust education.

That citation reads, in part:

“Abington School District is being honored with the 2017 Excellence in Education Award by the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center of Philadelphia at the 5th Annual Educators Luncheon on May 4, 2017.  Abington School District is being recognized for their pioneering efforts in the development of internationally recognized Holocaust curriculum and awareness/educational programs for grades 5 through 12. Abington School District has been a leader in Holocaust education, beginning in 1985/86 with the creation of the Abington School District Holocaust Curriculum Committee.  Abington School District made Holocaust education a priority, signaling to its students, faculty, staff, and wider community that the atrocities of the Holocaust must never be forgotten and that it is our responsibility to teach younger generations about this horrific time in history. As part of its instruction, Abington schools have welcomed Holocaust survivors to tell their stories and help students to understand how genocide affects real lives, beyond statistics or photographs in a textbook.  The district’s inclusion of Holocaust survivors also reminds students of the strength, hope, and resilience of persecuted people. Abington School District also presented professional development programs on Holocaust education to Abington librarians, and English, Reading, and Social Studies teachers from the junior high and senior high schools to ensure educators have the tools and training to appropriately address subjects of genocide and human rights violations with students.”

Shown here are photos of:  Dr. Sichel receiving the award from Mr. Feldman;  Ms. Deanne Comer, Ms. Lorraine Hirsh, and Ms. Cindi Pasceri – members of the original committee that created the groundbreaking curriculum – with Dr. Sichel and Dr. Melchor;  the award plaque; and the State House of Representatives citation.

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