Since 2005, some 50,000 educators and community leaders have received training in "Echoes & Reflections," a multimedia program that empowers middle and high school educators with dynamic classroom materials and professional development to enable them to confidently teach about the Holocaust.
Heidi Omlor was one of the participants at the "Echoes & Reflections" Advanced Learning Seminar that took place at Yad Vashem in June 2018. The seven-day seminar included lectures and workshops aimed at expanding the knowledge of teachers on multiple topics about the Holocaust, increasing their confidence in teaching about the Holocaust, to reinforcing the pedagogy of "Echoes & Reflections" for effective teaching about the Shoah. Teachers also participated in a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, learned about the history of antisemitism and its current forms, and garnered pedagogical tools such as using poetry and films as resources in the classroom.
Omlor was first exposed to "Echoes & Reflections" in the summer of 2017, when she attended a seminar on the program at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. "That seminar was a life-changing event," recalls Omlor. "Every part of the seminar was beneficial to me as a teacher. The speakers, the lessons, and even the other participants were all an instrumental piece of a very positive experience. Being given the opportunity to learn from scholars, survivors and experts in the field helped to broaden my knowledge base and had a profound effect on my teaching last school year. One of the most powerful and useful parts of the seminar was the opportunity to collaborate with other educators about how they use the materials, all while being able to learn additional information from 'Echoes & Reflections' experts. Even after returning home, Yad Vashem provided us with support by sending staff members to many schools, and providing training to additional teachers in the 'Echoes & Reflections' curriculum. Being my first trip to Israel, there were many things I wanted to see and experience while visiting, and the seminar set up some of those experiences for us as well."
This June, Omlor returned to Israel to participate in Yad Vashem's biannual International Educators' Conference. "When I learned that the International Conference was happening this summer, I jumped at the chance not only to return to Israel, but also expand my knowledge even further." The speakers and presenters did not disappoint. Topics that covered everything from theology to technology were presented, and participants were provided with information and resources to incorporate into lessons for the upcoming school year. "As an educator, Yad Vashem is an invaluable resource for both me and my students," concludes Omlor. "The connections and friendships I have made while visiting Yad Vashem are something that I will continue to cherish and nurture for years to come."
"Echoes & Reflections" is a partnership of three world leaders in education: Yad Vashem, the ADL and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. For more information about the Echoes & Reflections Program, click here.