by George J Elbaum
The Institute for Holocaust Education (IHE) of Omaha, NE, was established in 2001 with the mission to provide educational resources, workshops, survivor testimony, and integrated arts programming to middle and high school students. IHE’s annual Week of Understanding is in its 12th year and brings testimony of Holocaust survivors to over 7,000 students in Nebraska and Iowa each year. This year there are 8 speakers and 12 schools participating. The 2 schools to whose students I spoke are Seward Middle School on March 22 and Fremont Middle School on March 24.
Fremont Middle School is located in Fremont, NE, a 30-minute drive northwest of Omaha. While many schools simply separate students by age with the same programming in place, Fremont Middle School recognizes and celebrates the middle level with specialized programming designed specifically for the pre-teen student. This programming allows students to grow and learn in a “small school” environment. Students and teachers are divided into teams of approximately 100 students. The primary goal of each team is to provide 21st Century, real-world instruction through the lens of a small community. Teams focus on interdisciplinary core instruction in a common space with a common set of instructors.
This is the 3rd year Fremont has participated in the Week of Understanding, facilitated by using Zoom. My presentation to 110 8th grade students was organized by teacher Sara Bigsby, and my participation in Week of Understanding was arranged by Scott Littky, IHE’s Executive Director, and Kael Sagheer, IHE’s Education Coordinator.