Castro Valley High School, Castro Valley, CA – May 18, 2016

by George J Elbaum

Castro Valley High School (CVHS) is a comprehensive 9-12 public high school with 2920 students of high diversity.  In the 10th grade students study the history of the Holocaust as part of the coverage of World War II, and English teacher Yvonna Shaw takes them on a parallel journey using literature including Maus by Art Spiegelman and adding a presentation by a Holocaust survivor.

This two-pronged, cross-disciplinary approach ensures that students not only have a factual background and an understanding of how the Holocaust evolved in the context of World War II, but also a sense of the psychological and individual toll connected with this history.  For example, Maus is drawn from personal experiences of a child of survivor, a graphic novel depicting the relationship between a father and son deeply impacted by history.  The legacies of the Holocaust are not only global and geo-political, as the students learn from literature, but also personal and rooted in family lore of all who survived.

CVHS has a long-time connection with Facing History and Ourselves through several teachers on staff who have accessed support and materials over many years.  With recent shifts in faculty through retirements and other changes, Yvonne Shaw now represents a new generation of Facing History teachers at the school.  She is introducing the resources to others on the campus, including veteran and newer members of the staff.  Principal Blaine Torpey, who explored Facing History resources himself as a former social studies teacher, plans a meeting for the Fall to acquaint more teachers with the resources and support available.

My presentation to more than 100 10th grade students was organized by Yvonna Shaw and arranged by Jack Weinstein of Facing History.  Other teachers attending it were Danielle Caddy and Stacy Kania.

Jack Weinstein's introduction

Jack Weinstein’s introduction

(More photos to follow.)

About gelbaum

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