The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) is fortunate to work with exceptional teachers from across the United States. Meet Joslyn “Mandy” Corbett and Amy McDonald, JFR Alfred Lerner Fellows. These two teachers are making a difference.
I am a native Floridian and I was born and raised in a small town in central Florida. I teach 7th grade Gifted and Advanced English Language Arts at Loggers’ Run Middle School in Boca Raton, Florida. My knowledge of antisemitism and the events before, during, and after the Holocaust was limited, to say the least. I had and still have great difficulty in teaching the human catastrophe of the Holocaust to my kids.
I learned that it’s okay not to understand how and why millions of Jews were systematically murdered. But, I also learned that it is my obligation as an educator to honor and remember through my teaching those who were saved and those who were lost. Why do I, as an African-American female teach about the Holocaust? As an educator, it is my responsibility to provide my kids with the tools they need to stand up for what is right, good, and true. Showing my kids that just because they are of a different race, gender, religion, or creed, does not mean that they are less of a human being. Hatred of and towards the Jewish people has always been here… With the rise of antisemitic language and attacks on Jews around the world, I must make every conscious effort to deepen my kids’ knowledge and understanding regarding the plight of the Jewish people before, during, and after the Holocaust. I have a purpose and a mission to change the world, one kid at a time.
My name is Amy McDonald and I am currently in my 28th year as an educator. I teach at Shades Valley High School, a very diverse, suburban public high school in Birmingham, Alabama. I teach a semester-long elective on Holocaust Studies, AP US History, US History II, and am chair of the Social Studies Department. I became a JFR Lerner Fellow in 2011 and was The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Goldman Awardee in 2013.
I can honestly say that teaching about the Holocaust has become one of the foremost passions in my life. The answer to the question, “Why?” is hard to put into words. Over the years, I have come to know, respect, and love many Holocaust survivors. They were and are my teachers. I teach about the Holocaust in their memory and to honor their lives and the lives of their loved ones. It is a labor of love, a duty, and a calling. I teach about the Holocaust because it is a continuing and enduring lesson about the dangers of unchecked hate and tyranny. I teach about the Holocaust to call attention to the fact that individuals, groups, and governments always have choices. I teach about the Holocaust because it sometimes seems that in the very act of teaching this history, there is a seed of resistance. A refusal. An absolute refusal to forget.