Shawn Riggins, who teaches at Cumberland County Technical Education Center in Vineland was honored recently as an European Study Lerner Fellow.
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) picked 12 middle- and high school teachers and Holocaust center personnel from five U.S. states as participants in its 2023 European Study Program in Germany and Poland last month.
Through lectures and visits to actual Holocaust sites, these educators gained a more profound understanding of the complex and tragic history of the Holocaust.
The program is a high-level, intensive and immersive educational experience that includes visits to concentration camps, ghetto sites and Holocaust memorials. Noted historian Robert Jan van Pelt, one of the world’s leading experts on the Holocaust, served as the accompanying scholar for the European Study Program.
Other southern New Jersey participants were: Rhaymen Altagracia-Yunes of Atlantic City High School in Mays Landing, Sue Kenney of Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township, and Rachel Worrell of Egg Harbor Township High School.
The trip began with the group traveling to Munich, Dachau and Nuremberg, where it explored the buildings that once housed the Nazi headquarters. The teachers also saw documentation centers and the White Rose Pavement Memorial, a cobblestone replica of pamphlets paying tribute to the ones passed out by the courageous White Rose student group that had resisted Nazi ideology during World War II.
The study program included a historical tour through Poland and a visit to the former Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish Museum in Warsaw, as well as educational expeditions through memorial sites and concentration camp vestiges, including those at Treblinka, Majdanek, Auschwitz I and Birkenau.
Throughout the program, participants had an opportunity to review and reflect on what they learned during their time at these important sites of the Holocaust, and how to bring those lessons into their classrooms.