Making an Impact with Newark Public School Teachers

I joined the Federation professional staff in September in a new position as the Gottesman Fellow, Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, funded through a generous donation by Jerry and Paula Gottesman. In this two-year pilot position, my charge is to work with Federation resources to create and coordinate impactful and inspiring programs to commemorate, celebrate, and educate students and adults in Newark about the city’s rich Jewish heritage. It’s all completely new, and very exciting.

In only a short time, I connected with Caleb Perkins, the Deputy Chief Academic Officer of the Newark Public Schools. Mr. Perkins was not aware of the deep Jewish history of the Jews and the city of Newark and was very excited to learn more and to work on including it into the Newark Public Schools.

Caleb invited me to run three teacher professional development days throughout the school year, the first of which took place on October 26. About 50 middle and high school teachers came from around the city of Newark to learn how to implement Holocaust education in their classrooms. It was a vibrant group and they were eager to learn.

The theme of the next session will be centered on teaching the Holocaust through memoirs. Author Ann Arnold and her father, a Holocaust survivor, Mark Schonwetter, will join me, along with Ed Serotta, the founder of Centropa, an organization which trains teachers on Holocaust education in Europe, Israel, and now here in the U.S.

These teacher trainings could have a big impact for the Newark teachers and their students, and are just the first step in really making a difference.

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