by George J Elbaum
The Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) held a week-long training seminar on “Holocaust and Human Behavior” for its high school and middle school teachers. The seminar was organized by Gail Pinnell, AUSD’s Coordinator of Education Services and conducted by Jack Weinstein of Facing History and Ourselves. Since I truly believe that teachers, as a group, have more influence in shaping the future of our society than any other profession, I welcomed the opportunity to tell my story at this event which was attended by 30-some AUSD teachers (several of whom invited their parent) and also Don Gill and Stephanie Anello, the Superintendent and Associate Superintendent, respectively, of AUSD.
It was very gratifying for me to find that the overall reaction of the teachers, including their enthusiasm and questions and subsequent letters, were quite similar to that of the many student groups at my previous presentations.
A letter from one teacher totally sums up the take-away that I or anyone could hope for: “I give you here a small piece of what I’ve taken from your presentation and story:
- Motivated me to be a better person
- Inspired me to see the story behind the person
- Rekindled my passion for teaching history and people
- Gained confidence to teach what I think is valuable
- Encouraged me to hug my kids, and
- Gave me the courage to speak up”
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for these words – they’ll keep me motivated to continue in spite of the lump in my throat that arises with painful memories.