The Power Of One
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
An important message to educators: If you genuinely invest your heart and soul into each child as an individual, you may never know the full extent of the return on your investment, but you can be sure it will be profound.
The National Policy Conference for Holocaust Education was such a wonderful experience. Presenting to a room full of educators and human rights professionals from across Ontario was a humbling experience, and we would thank Avi Benlolo for this incredible opportunity to partner with Simon Wiesenthal on this year’s conference.
When meeting with Avi before the conference, we recognized that Margaret’s Legacy and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center have a strong shared mission, and that together, we could be even more successful at making an impact on the future of Holocaust Education. The conference proved that we were right - two heads are better than one.
Our shared hope is that more and more teachers recognize the necessity of integrating this type of education into their regular lessons.
We were privileged to have veteran teacher Colin MacKenzie who came all the way from Halifax to attend. He is a model educator, who has successfully been integrating human rights and Holocaust studies into his core curriculum for years. He is also the lead author of our "Journeys" curriculum. We met Colin at Pier 21 in Halifax a few years back when we were invited to present at the museum there.
The curriculum he wrote creatively integrates Holocaust studies, human rights, leadership development and social emotional learning into many cross-curricular ministry requirements. This curriculum is perfect for young students with little or no prior exposure to Holocaust education. Modern concepts and pop culture are woven throughout and enable students to relate to Margaret & Arthur’s Story in a way that inspires growth.
Over the last year, our resources have blossomed and are now bearing new fruits.
Since Journeys was designed for students in public and non-Jewish private schools, feedback necessitated the development of our new "Courage and Survival" value-based curriculum. It covers many of the similar ministry requirements while also integrating Jewish studies and Hebrew language. It is currently being piloted and will be available to the public in just a few months.
And one of our most recent updates that is truly exciting…
Based on participant feedback of our programs, we have been working with other non-profit organizations, mental health professionals, and volunteers to develop a program and curricular materials for "A Generation of Hope" that will address a new demographic, survivors, their offspring, and honestly anyone that needs support in the area of mental health. This topic comes up in almost every talk we have ever given and is so important in today’s society. In this new program, the follow up to the Margaret's Legacy feature documentary will include learning the fundamentals of peer support and mental health first aid for all ages.
All of the above can only be outstanding when you have a teacher willing to devote classroom time and energy to the development of the whole child.
The video we showed on opening night of the conference was NOT Margaret & Arthur's Story documentary (scroll down to see the video we showed). It was a story about a boy, Max, who reached out to us after having ongoing traumatic experiences with being bullied and ostracized in middle school because of antisemitism.
His story is only one of many similar stories we have come across over the years.
He not only got through it, but he felt empowered and is now leading other students in large scale humanitarian efforts.
And he is only in grade 11.
We were so happy to be one of the presenters at "Change the Way", a human rights conference that he planned and led along with his Global Connect class and their talented teacher Mr. Toth, of Dundas Valley Secondary School. Approx 1000 students across Greater Hamilton were in attendance at this conference last month.
On a side note (that actually is a very important highlight and no so much a side), Madame Sephanie Bass, who was the only staff member that Max felt he could turn to when he was going through all of his difficulties in middle school came to cheer him on. Four years after she taught him. We need more teachers like her in this world!!! (see the video below)
Unfortunately, there are not always happy endings, but as you will see in the video, Max, had Madame Bass who stepped up and became “the one”. At Margaret’s Legacy, we refer to “the one” as the person in a child’s life who cares about and inspires each individual child, and helps facilitate some much-needed changes in classroom culture. Who goes above and beyond, and who invests in their student’s overall well-being.
Margaret’s Legacy produces educational tools and resources that cover so many topics related to the Holocaust, but in the end it’s “the one” who will drive the impact home.
We can’t do it alone!
Administrators, teachers, school counselors, mentors… it’s up to you.