Teachers Making a Difference

The Teacher Spotlight is a feature focus of the Neuberger newsletter, sharing some of the incredible work being done in classrooms by Canadian teachers. Teachers profiled have been affiliated with the Neuberger educational programming. If you would like to share your experiences in teaching the Holocaust and working with the Neuberger resources, please let us know.

Cheryl Fury is an Associate Professor of History at the University of New Brunswick (Saint John).

Cheryl has been nominated for a number of teaching awards on both campuses of UNB, winning a Departmental Achievement in Teaching Excellence Award and the Faculty of Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2010 she was awarded a scholarship to attend the March of the Living Holocaust Educator Study Tour. Her experiences on that trip led her to teach and research Holocaust studies more deeply.

After designing and teaching UNBSJ’s first course on the Holocaust in 2011, Cheryl wrote "Entering that Darkness" as part of the University of London's IOE International Perspectives on Holocaust Education (2012). She also participated in the Holocaust education program offered for high schools in the Greater Saint John area and has given a number of guest lectures.

Of the many life-changing aspects of the March of the Living for Educators tour, Cheryl credits meeting Holocaust survivor and author Vera Schiff as the most significant. Following the trip, Cheryl helped edit some of Vera’s unpublished works and the two developed a very fruitful partnership. Cheryl edited Vera Schiff's article, "Refusing to Give in to Despair: The Children and Teachers of Terezin" in Prism: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators (Spring 2012, volume 4). Cheryl annotated and edited Vera Schiff's most recent book, The Theresienstadt Deception: The Concentration Camp the Nazis Created to Deceive the World (Mellen, 2012). Former American Secretary of State Madeline Albright referred to it as “a remarkable book by a remarkable woman.” Cheryl has also assisted in revising and expanding two of Schiff's previous works for on-line publication with Scholar’s Publishing, Hitler's Inferno, and Vera Schiff’s award-winning memoir, Theresienstadt: The Town the Nazis Gave the Jews. They have just recently completed the manuscript, Hitler’s Inferno II, which features additional personal histories about those struggling to survive the horrors of the Shoah. They have begun work on a manuscript Vera wrote on her years in Israel.

As a professional historian and Holocaust educator, Cheryl is committed to adding first-hand accounts to the historical record.

We decided to expand our category of ‘Teachers Making a Difference’ to be more inclusive of educators who may not be in a classroom, but still make a difference in their students lives.

Carmelita Cechetto-Shea is the Library Consultant for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and has been involved in education for 30 years, first as a school librarian (11 years) and then as the consultant (19 years).  Carmelita holds a Master of Education Degree in Information Technology (MUN), a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies (CBU), a Diploma in Library & Information Services (NSCC).

 In April 2013, Carmelita received the “Holocaust Educator of the Year” award from the Cape Breton Holocaust Education Committee for her “strong commitment and dedication to raising awareness and sensitizing students, to the consequences of racism through Holocaust education.”  Upon returning from a March of the Living Educators Tour in 2010, Carmelita dedicated her work as a librarian and educator to bring awareness of Holocaust education through collection development for the school libraries and giving presentations to students from Grade 6-12. Having presented to over 3000 students in 35 classrooms and lecture halls over the past 3 years, her talks have moved many students and teachers to a better understanding of the need to keep history alive and to remember those who cannot speak for themselves. School libraries in her Board in Cape Breton benefit from the infusion of top quality books on the Holocaust, racism, etc. which she recommends on a regular basis. 

Carmelita is also a member of the Holocaust Education Committee and works on a sub-committee that brings Holocaust Education Week in November each year to the teachers in Cape Breton. During these sessions, she enables teachers to leave with new resources to continue their work in the classroom. Carmelita’s passion and determination for Holocaust education began as a young girl when her father, an Italian immigrant, gave her a book that had some disturbing stories and pictures within; over the past 40 years, she has continued to answer her own questions and expand on her knowledge about a horrific time in world history.

In December 2012, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her commitment to enabling students to discover the joy of reading as well as her community service on various community organizations.  As well, in November of 2012 she was inducted into the Adopt-A-Library Literacy Program Hall of Fame for her work in promoting literacy in the province through reading challenges held annually. Other accomplishments include Canadian Library Association Library Technician of the Year (2008) and Newfoundland Library Association Exemplary Student (1995). Thanks Carmelita for making a difference!

This month we salute Mr. Clint Lovell from Barrie, Ontario. Clint has been actively engaged in Holocaust education since 2005, and has participated in numerous study opportunities such as the Holocaust Educators’ Study Tour, Student Symposium on the Holocaust, and even worked with his students to have a book published! The Boys from Barrie 1939-1945 describes the fate of young soldiers from the Barrie region and is based on actual research his students conducted. Clint and his students even travelled to France, Belgium and Holland to visit the graves of the soldiers they wrote about. Thanks for teaching with such passion and dedication!

The April teacher to feature is Ms. Diane Lewis, Art Educator with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board in Nova Scotia. An active member of Cape Breton's Holocaust Education Week committee, Diane has helped organize public as well as teacher training programs. One of her earlier projects included writing and narrating a documentary for CBC Radio-Maritime Magazine about her mother and a Holocaust survivor, Norman Lipschutz, who resided in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Diane’s work has also involved seeking provincial recognition for Holocaust Education Week in Nova Scotia. In 2010 Diane approached Cape Breton Nova MLA Gordie Gosse, leading to the unanimous passing of a resolution in the legislature recognizing November 1-9 as Holocaust Education Week in Nova Scotia.

Diane participated in the 2008 Holocaust Educators’ Study Tour (March of the Living for Educators) and continues to teach about the Holocaust in her arts-based curriculum. She recently developed a teaching resource for the Children's Rights Centre at Cape Breton University that is now used by UNICEF. It can be found online here.

Thanks, Diane, for your commitment to Holocaust education in Canada!

In March, the Neuberger shined the spotlight on Mr. Jeff Chard, Head of History at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School in Waterloo, ON.

A history buff, one of Jeff’s passions is teaching about the Holocaust. Besides inviting Holocaust survivors into his classroom to engage in dialogue with his students, Jeff organized a public program at his school that featured a panel of Holocaust survivors sharing their personal narratives and offered the parents of his students a once-weekly, 5-week course about the Holocaust. The course included guest speakers such as Dr. Doris Bergen, University of Toronto, and Andreas Schnitzer of Austrian Service Abroad. In 2012, Jeff shared his resources and methodology at a teachers’ conference organized by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum. Somehow, Jeff also finds time to take his classes on field trips to the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.

Thanks, Jeff, for your passion and commitment to Holocaust education!