by George J Elbaum
Methuen High School (MHS) is a public secondary school serving grades 9-12. It has an enrollment of 1950, of which 46% is minority and 47% from low-income families. The Holocaust is taught at MHS as part of English Department studies by teacher Jackie Rubino, who organized my presentation at MHS and uses educational materials from Facing History and Ourselves and other sources.. This was my 2nd visit to MHS, andapproximately 80 of MHS’s 9th grade students were on today’s presentation via Zoom. As last year, the students have already studied much of the Holocaust and Human Behavior book from Facing History, “Schindler’s List,” selections from the The World Must Know, Night by Elie Wiesel, plus supplemental materials
In the 10 years of presentations I have noticed that the quality of students’ questions during the Q&A much depends on the quality of student preparation, and thus the quality of teaching. Enthusiastic teachers such as Jackie Rubino result in enthusiastic students, and that resulted in our Q&A lasting another half hours after my almost an hour presentation. As last year, I was again pleasantly surprised by the quality of the students’ questions, and some of their most thoughtful ones about my feelings, hopes, and concerns during the Holocaust had been asked of me only once or twice in the almost 300 talks I have given to date. I’ve long felt that the Q&A is often the most important part of my talks because it represents our 2-way communication, and I was very pleased and moved by today’s session.
In addition to Jackie Rubino, attending the presentation (by Zoom) were MHS teachers and staff, including Dr. Lisa Golobski-Twomey, MHS English department head, Kara Brooks, English teacher, and Jason Smith, science teacher. My participation was arranged by Jeff Smith of Facing History.