Yad Vashem Summer Seminar Alumni Partner with Yad Vashem


“Being an alumnus from the 2016 Yad Vashem Summer Seminar, seeing a local training, for me, felt like coming full circle.” – Brandi Calton

A core promise of the Echoes and Reflection program is that it partners with teachers in the classroom to increase their impact over time and in March 2017, alumni of the 2016 Summer Seminar in Israel convened nearly 200 colleagues in five states from Georgia to New York, and Missouri to Indiana and Ohio, to do just this.

Sheryl Ochayon with Brandi Calton in Ohio

Sheryl Ochayon with Brandi Calton

The focus was on taking a hard look at the way they teach about the Holocaust, and to learn more about Echoes and Reflections’ pedagogy, and classroom ready resources. This was accomplished by offering their personal experiences using Echoes and Reflections in the classroom and partnering with experts from Yad Vashem, who traveled to the United States to facilitate seven professional development programs.

Brandi Calton, an English teacher in Ohio, partnered with Southwestern Ohio Education Association (SWOEA) to host a professional development program in Cincinnati. She asked Sheryl Ochayon, Project Director for Echoes and Reflections at Yad Vashem, to facilitate a program that would focus on using Lesson 2: Antisemitism in the classroom and offer support for teachers in addressing the complexity of antisemitism with students.

“We chose to focus on the antisemitism lesson because it has become very relevant locally,” she said. “We have had a lot of antisemitic acts happening around Jewish centers and schools in our community, so the topic is relevant to what our students have been seeing on the news at home.”

The program drew 26 participants and Calton shared that, “Having someone from Yad Vashem come all the way to our community put an emphasis on the importance of Holocaust education and heightened the excitement about the program among my colleagues. Sheryl did a fantastic job facilitating and, being an alumnus from the 2016 Yad Vashem Summer Seminar, seeing a local training, for me, felt like coming full circle.”

Yad Vashem presentation about teaching antisemitism

SWOEA was pleased with the program’s success and relevance for local teachers and Calton shared that she hopes it will lead to additional Echoes and Reflections professional development opportunities in the coming years.

George Bevington, an English teacher in Georgia, welcomed Steffie McMahon-Kaye from Yad Vashem to Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta. McMahon-Kaye facilitated a six-hour professional development program for 45 teachers from eight schools in the Atlanta area that covered a variety of topics including Echoes and Reflections’ pedagogy of teaching about the Holocaust, the ghettos, and specifically, Lesson 7: Rescuers and Non-Jewish Resistance.

Bevington appreciated the opportunity to share the knowledge he had acquired with local colleagues, and said, “The teachers loved the six-hour program and will bring back a wealth of knowledge to their own classrooms… I had a wonderful experience with Yad Vashem as a Summer Seminarian in Jerusalem, and benefitted tremendously from our classroom sessions with numerous experts on the Holocaust.”