University of Kentucky Initiative Aims to Bolster K-12 Holocaust Education

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Through funding from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence (JHFE), the Jewish Studies program at the University of Kentucky’s (UK) College of Arts and Sciences recently announced a new initiative to improve Holocaust education in schools throughout the state.

The UK-JHFE Holocaust Education Initiative will connect K-12 teachers with UK faculty and provide them with professional development opportunities, teaching tools, training, lesson plans, and more.  

“Our goal in this project is for UK faculty to use their expert knowledge to empower Kentucky teachers,” Janice Fernheimer, director of UK’s Jewish Studies program, said in a news release. “We will train teacher-leaders with extensive middle and high school classroom experience to train and empower their peers — creating networks of experts at the local level and a sustainable model for educational excellence.”

Starting this summer, UK faculty will work to train 20 teachers to become “teacher-leaders,” who will go on to create regional Holocaust education workshops for their peers. The educators will develop curricula and learning materials that all teachers can share and use in the state. The tools, training, and knowledge will allow teachers to better meet the standards of 2018 state legislation that mandates Holocaust education in middle and high schools. 

“The passage of this act ​speaks to the importance and necessity of Holocaust education, especially as anti-Semitism rises across the country and in Kentucky,” Fernheimer said.​ “​It is a daunting task for Kentucky teachers to create and implement the curriculum to satisfy this mandate, and this is where we at UK can help.”