Licton Springs K-8 School, Seattle, WA – November 5, 2019 PM

by George J Elbaum

Nine years ago, almost to the day, I told my story for the first time to young students.  It was at Seattle’s Alternative School #1 to the 7th & 8th grade classes of teacher Jo Cripps, and that talk is the very first post in this weblog.  Since then, Alternative School #1 had morphed into Pinehurst K-8 which in turn morphed into Licton Springs K-8 School where I spoke 3 years ago, and today is the 3rd time that I spoke  to students taught by Jo Cripps.  In the intervening 9 years I have spoken at more than 200 venues, yet returning to Jo Cripps’s class is a bit like homecoming.

The stated mission of Licton Springs K-8 is to provide its students with “a creative, holistic, experiential learning environment which nurtures respect, self-discovery and integrity, preparing the whole child to engage our global community.”  To accomplish its mission, it uses “an alternative method of teaching that emphasizes hands-on learning, culturally responsive curriculum, and community engagement.”

Conscious of its Northwest location, the school emphasizes the area’s Native experience, culture, and history while serving a diverse, multicultural student community, and connecting learning in the classroom to real-world context.  Its curriculum is therefore “Native focused, honoring Northwest tribes and the diversity of Native people throughout the Americas, and includes social justice education, an individualized approach for different types of learners, frequent field trips and community speakers, and shared decision making.”

The same enthusiasm that teacher Jo Cripps transferred to her students 9 years ago was again visible today, and a wonderful compliment to Jo’s teaching is a statement by Julia Thompson of the Holocaust Center for Humanity: “Some of the brightest stars on our Student Leadership Board were referred to us from Jo.”

Today’s talk was arranged once again by Julia Thompson,  Education Resource Coordinator of the Holocaust Center for Humanity.

with most of the students: bottom row Jett and Aiden; top row Lawrence, Noah, Caiden, Gracie, Aoife and Mia

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Franklin High School, Seattle, WA – November 5, 2019 AM

by George J Elbaum

Franklin High School (FHS) first opened its doors in 1912 as the second purpose-built high school in Seattle, and when in 1986 the city’s School Board proposed to tear down its beautiful neo-Classical building, the Landmark Preservation Board designated it an official landmark which prevented its demolition.  FHS now has an enrollment of 1257 students according to US News Best High Schools, of which 92% are minority (52% Asian, 27% Black, 10% Hispanic, 7% White, 4% other), 72% “economically disadvantaged”.  With many students being immigrants or children thereof, its graduation rate is 82% with math proficiency of 58% vs. 40% state average, and 31% reading proficiency vs. 40% state average.

My talk to a class of English Language Learners was organized by teacher Renee Stern, and with her encouragement many of her students entered the Writing and Art Contest held annually by Settle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity with writing submissions in both English and their native language.  Julia Thompson, the Holocaust Center’s Education Resource Coordinator, arranged my participation in this event.

everyone

 

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St. Luke School, Shoreline, WA – November 4, 2019 PM

by George J Elbaum

This was the 4th time I spoke at St. Luke School in the last 8 years, and each time I truly looked forward to returning.  My key memories of the previous visits were of an inspirational teacher, Rosemary Conroy, and her 8th grade students who reflected her enthusiasm.  My visit today only reinforced those memories, especially of Ms. Conroy’s infectious enthusiasm and her efforts to help her students become good citizens of the world, especially in today’s environment of growing intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia toward the “others.”

St. Luke School teaches more than 300 students in K-8 grades based on the belief that “quality Catholic education teaches the whole child spiritually, emotionally, academically and socially.”  The 8th grade Social Studies Curriculum, as organized and taught by Rosemary Conroy, is very intensive as it covers U.S. history, Washington State history, geography, economics, politics, and current events.  The curriculum highlights the formative periods of U.S. history: Revolutionary War, development of the Constitution & Bill of Rights, Civil War, WWI and WWII, and it includes an in-depth look at the Holocaust.  Where possible, Ms. Conroy invites outside speakers who witnessed first-hand the events being studied, such as the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Nisei relocation program, WWII POW camps and the Tuskegee Airmen.

Rosemary not only teaches but “walks the walk” in her role on the Teacher Advisory Board of the Holocaust Center for Humanity as well as her 3 months of volunteer work in Cambodia.  When introducing me to her class this time she said: “I won’t feel too badly if you can’t name the first 10 Amendments when you leave my class in June, but I will be devastated if you can’t accept others and treat them with dignity, respect and kindness.”

The event was attended by 37 8th grade students plus seminarian Alex Nelson, and St Luke teacher Jennifer Fargo, and it was arranged by Julia Thompson, Education Resource Coordinator of the Holocaust Center for Humanity.  Two days afterwards we attended the Holocaust Center’s annual Voices for Humanity Luncheon and Rosemary was one of the speakers, giving an impassioned yet very personal speech about supporting all efforts for tolerance, fairness and kindness.  The world definitely needs more Rosemarys!

everyone

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Roosevelt High School, Seattle, CA – November 4, 2019 AM

by George J Elbaum

Roosevelt High School (RHS) was opened in 1922 and named after President Theodore Roosevelt, and with current enrollment of more than 1700 students it ranks as 2nd largest public high school in Seattle.  According to Best Schools, its student body is 31% minority and 12% economically disadvantaged, yet it rates #9 in Seattle and #11 in Washington with a graduation rate of 91%, with 67% math proficiency and 50% reading proficiency vs. 40% state average for both, and with 60% of its students passing one or more AP exams (9-12 grade).

RHS has the only full-time drama program in the Seattle School District and is the home to a highly renowned FIRST Robotic Competition team, the Iron Riders, which is a student-run club offering experience in constructing robots to compete in yearly competitions.  The club focuses on building a team environment and provides an opportunity for students in variety of career paths, including STEM fields, business and administration.

The audience for my talk was composed of approximately 650 students from 9th through 12th grades, most of whom have studied the Holocaust and read such books as Maus, Night, and The Diary of a Young Girl.  The event was organized by ELA teachers, Holly Cotton Howe (to whose class of English learners in Seattle World School I spoke 2 years ago) and Carolyn Hall.  What I most remember about the talk is that during the Q & A I was asked a specific question about my feelings that had not been asked in the 240 talks I’ve given to date, a question that I had to dig deeply into myself to answer, and I always appreciate that.  Arrangements for the talk were made for me by Julia Thompson, Education Resource Coordinator, Holocaust Center for Humanity.

starting the talk

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Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, San Francisco, CA – October 28, 2019

by George J Elbaum

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory (SHCP) is an innovative Catholic high school with enrollment of 1300 students and a dynamic blend of liberal arts, scientific inquiry, and 21st-century pedagogy which develops resourceful, independent thinkers.   The school prides itself on its commitment to its educational philosophy, Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve, and it offers an array of courses, from college preparatory through honors and advanced placement curriculum.  SHCP’s commitment to rigorous academics and social justice helps mold students into hardworking, thoughtful and altruistic adults.

Incoming students are assigned a school counselor with whom they will continue to consult until graduation.  In junior year, students are also assigned a college advisor who will guide them through the college research, application and financial aid process.  SHCP’s Counseling and Advising Program provides parents and students the academic guidance they need to navigate a challenging college prep curriculum commensurate with the individual student’s talents and aspirations, making the transition from SHCP to college as seamless as possible.

Because SHCP lies in the heart of San Francisco’s technology center and near Silicon Valley, plus it has an active network of alumni, parents and professional partners, it established the Student Launch Initiative (SLI) as the area’s preeminent high school entrepreneurship program.  This program teaches students to identify problems and design solutions that positively impact the lives of their peers, their families, and their community.  Through SLI’s workshops and speakers’ series, industry innovators and entrepreneurs introduce students to entrepreneurial concepts including ideation, project development and business model development.  SLI goes beyond the classroom to provide hands-on experience, practical learning, direct mentorship, and seed funding to help launch student projects.

Today was my 3rd visit to SHCP since 2017, and once again the students asked some very perceptive questions during the Q&A, including two that have never been asked of me in the 240 talks I’ve given till now.  I’m always pleased when that happens, as it shows me that the students are thinking and it makes me think.  Attending my talk were four groups of students: 12th grade World Religions taught by Ish Ruiz, who organized this talk as he also organized the previous two; 12th grade Living & Dying taught by Kathy Lorentz; 9th grade Scripture taught by Rachel Bundang, and 9th grade World History taught by Jeff & Chris Juelsgaard.  Attending the talk were Ish Ruiz, Kathy Lorentz, Chris Juelsgaard, and SHCP President Melinda Lawlor Skrade, who made me aware of a fascinating study of the effects of the Holocaust on the now-grown children and grandchildren of the survivors.  Arrangements for the talk were made by Penny Savryn, JFCS Holocaust Center’s Program Coordinator.

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Violins of Hope at Galileo Academy, San Francisco, CA – October 23, 2019

by George J Elbaum

The Holocaust Center of Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) together with Facing History and Ourselves jointly organized a professional development workshop for educators in the greater San Francisco area on the topic of Music in the Holocaust, and specifically on the Violins of Hope Project.

The Violins of Hope is a collection of 16 instruments played by Jewish musicians during The Holocaust. They were collected and lovingly restored by an Israeli violin maker, Amnon Weinstein, who spent more than two decades painstakingly amassing this tragic collection which he calls “Violins of Hope” because they survived concentration camps, pogroms and many long journeys to tell remarkable stories of injustice, suffering, resilience and survival.  The Violins of Hope Project includes a national concert tour of these instruments and a documentary movie narrated by Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody, and it symbolizes the power of music.  It is thus a worthy topic of a workshop for Holocaust educators.

The event was held at the Galileo Academy and organized by Morgan Blum Schneider, Director of the JFCS Holocaust Center, and Elaine Guarnieri-Nunn, Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Area, Facing History and Ourselves, plus Facing History staff Lindsay Gutierrez,  Nga Mai, and Jared Kishidawa, Office Manager & Program Coordinator, who brought in trays of sweets for snacking which I much appreciated :-).  My participation was arranged by Penny Sevryn, Program Coordinator of JFCS Holocaust Center.

introduction by Morgan Blum Schneider

 

 

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Charles Wright Academy, Tacoma, WA – September 23, 2019

by George J Elbaum

Charles Wright Academy (CWA) was one of the 2 Seattle area schools where I spoke for the very first time in October 2010, and today it was the 10th consecutive year that I spoke at their annual Global Summit.  This year the Summit consisted of 29 high school students and 6 teachers visiting from Colombia, France and Poland, plus students from CWA’s 8th grade class.

The Global Summit is a 10-day program designed to promote peace and social justice by exposing the visiting students to and developing their understanding of the concepts of universal human rights, justice, fair trade and sustainable life styles, and by demonstrating how the choices that each of us makes every day can impact the world. The core of the Summit is a series of speakers whose personal experiences reflect directly on these subjects, and their presentations are followed by group discussions on these very concepts.

This year’s Global Summit was again organized and managed by Ann Vogel, CWA’s Director of International Programs.  She also was one of six Global Ambassadors for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and her son and daughter both graduated from CWA.  Ann was assisted by visiting teachers Marina Larrahondo Rico and Robby Pena Nelson from Colombia; Marie Bourgeon and Olivier Tabary from France; Magda Wnuczek and Grzegorz Martyniuk from Poland; and CWA teachers Dan Wicklund, Christina Bertucchi, Rafe Wadleigh, David Bishop, Susan Sparrow, and Jacquie Silberman (who, together with her husband Dan, provided personal “shuttle service”😊 from/to the airport and conversation that was both enjoyable and meaningful).  As usual, the visiting delegations were hosted by CWA teachers and students.

Due to an undetected malfunction of Ann Vogel’s camera, we will be gathering photos from various attendees to supplement the few available at this posting.

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