This spring, the Sandra and Leon Levine Jewish Community Center is offering a workshop to help teachers present the lessons of the Holocaust.
On April 28, master teachers will present a free program, Teaching the Holocaust ... From Remembrance to Hope in Today's Classroom.
The workshop was inspired by the LJCC's involvement with the Butterfly Project, an international effort that originated in San Diego. The San Diego project, called Zikaron V'tikvah - Hebrew for remembrance and hope - uses hand-painted ceramic butterflies to memorialize the 1.5 million children lost in the Holocaust.
The Charlotte effort to contribute to the worldwide goal of 1.5 million butterflies began 21/2 years ago. To date, civic and religious groups, 60 private and public schools and people of all ages from Mecklenburg County have created and painted more than 2,600 butterflies. The painted ceramic butterflies are being incorporated into the LJCC's Margaret and Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden as the Children's Holocaust Memorial Sculpture, designed by Paul Rousso.
"We wanted people to know about this teacher workshop," said Barbara Ziegler, co-chairwoman of the Butterfly Project. "It's a natural outgrowth of the Butterfly Project."
According to the LJCC website, the Butterfly Project is also meant to "help combat anti-Semitism, indifference and Holocaust denial through educational workshops that personalize the history for each participant."
Tolerance is a big topic to cover in classrooms.
"After visiting various schools in the area and coming in contact with such wonderfully creative teachers, such as Kim Tuttle, (who teaches 10th-grade IB English at North Mecklenburg), we thought that it was a shame for other teachers not to have the opportunity to be exposed to her ideas and methods that are so engaging for her students," said Butterfly Project co-chairwoman Gwen Orland. "The Holocaust being a very sensitive and sometimes difficult subject matter to teach, we decided that we should offer a workshop to help teachers gather resources and share ideas."
Holocaust survivor and educator Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz, a professor emeritus at UNC Charlotte, will give an introduction to the Butterfly Project's first teacher workshop.
Cernyak-Spatz's daughter, south Charlottean Jackie Fishman, 64, is an English teacher at Charlotte Latin. Fishman will moderate the workshop and help to "make sure that participants better understand what they can do to reinforce the lessons (of the Holocaust)."
A panel of experienced teachers, from fifth grade to college level, will share their expertise and discuss teaching strategies with fellow teachers.
Panelist Judy LaPietra, a teacher from St. Mark Catholic School in Huntersville, works with curriculum from the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute, which archives oral histories of Holocaust survivors and witnesses. Other panelists include Mindy Passe, a teacher at Barringer Elementary; Amy Bynum, a teacher at Providence Day; and Amy Tomalis, a teacher at Davidson Charter School.
Tuttle, 36, who is not Jewish, is passionate about teaching others about the Holocaust. "God gave me this opportunity to give a voice to all those who did not have a voice," she said.
She will share activities that have been successful with students. She has cleared out her classroom to simulate an empty train car, darkened it and played ominous music while she had students "board my train" and then watch a 12-minute movie of statistics, excerpts of speeches made by Adolf Hitler and images of deportations. Tuttle is also bringing a student with her to give a teenage perspective.