As a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City, Danielle Bagonis thinks the best person to educate a teacher is another teacher — especially on the subject of one of history’s most shameful atrocities.
Bagonis was one of 22 teachers to attend the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous’ Summer Institute for Holocaust Education from June 25 to June 29 at Columbia University and receive the seminar’s associated Lerner Fellowship.
“As someone who has taught the Holocaust for many years, every day I was just blown away,” Bagonis said. “I felt very, very valued as an educator.”
Each day, she learned something new about the Holocaust and how to teach it, as multiple topic experts spoke to the teachers daily. Bagonis, who has been teaching for 10 years, quickly realized the Holocaust was more nuanced than she thought.
All seventh-graders in Baltimore City are required to read Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” and learn about the Holocaust, but Bagonis said the seminar gave her new ideas for her classes.
“It’s important for your students to be able to make personal connections,” she said.
The Lerner Fellowship qualifies Bagonis for the JFR’s advanced seminars, which include a trip to Europe for on-site Holocaust study.
“Given the opportunity, I will pursue the other programs,” she said.
James Whitlow is an intern at the Baltimore Jewish Times.