Turning Point Teacher to Visit Poland
Emporia teacher Barbara Fowler has been selected to participate in an international education program in Poland in January. She is one of 25 teachers chosen by USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and Discovery Education to participate in Auschwitz: The Past is Present, a global communications and education program. The program is in conjunction with the official observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 2015.
Fowler is a secondary social studies and language arts teacher at Turning Point Academy, a charter school in the Emporia district that uses a project-based learning instructional model for students kindergarten through high school. This is her 33rd year as a teacher in Emporia.
This unique educator professional development opportunity is just one component of the education initiative between Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council are the organizers of the official commemoration event.
“Being selected as one of 25 teachers worldwide to attend this learning opportunity in Poland is an amazing opportunity,” she said. “To walk in the paths of those who experienced anguish and death because of hate and injustice will be an emotionally draining yet valuable exchange of knowledge to use as a teaching tool.”
“Upon my return students will study the holocaust and other examples of genocide around the world. This is an opportunity to gain more insight into primary sources available about the holocause and then share access to those primary sources with both students and peers.”
The educators from 11 different countries representing four continents will attend a four-day workshop designed to deepen their understanding of the historical landscape of Poland before, during and after the Holocaust and increase participant knowledge of authentic sites including Auschwitz-Birkenau.
During the program teachers will work with IWitness, USC Shoah Foundation’s educational website that brings testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocide, including the Holocaust, from the Institute’s Visual History Archive to secondary schools via multimedia-learning activities. Sixteen activities based on testimony from survivors and witnesses of Auschwitz will be available in IWitness by the official commemoration. Four new activities have been released to date.
Teachers will also have the unprecedented opportunity to meet with a large number of Holocaust survivors prior to attending the commemoration ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. “Survivors shared their stories because they understood how vital it was that future generations never forget what happened at places like Auschwitz,” said Dr. Kori Street, USC Shoah Foundation Director of Education. “By bringing teachers to a place where so many atrocities occurred is a way to show survivors that we take seriously our responsibility of keeping their voices strong forever.”
Fowler said she also will have access to additional materials that she can share with students and other teachers. “I hope to eventually create a first person narrative performance as a holocaust survivor to share with students and community groups.”