Boaz Dvir directs the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative at Penn State and will serve as project director for this Institute. He previously served as operations manager at the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning, which provides professional development to educators in several states. An award-winning filmmaker, Dvir tells the stories of ordinary people who transform into trailblazers. They include an inner-city schoolteacher who emerges as a disruptive innovator and a national model (Discovering Gloria); a World War II flight engineer who transforms into the leader of a secret operation to prevent a second Holocaust (A Wing and a Prayer); a truck driver who becomes an effective child-protection activist (Jessie’s Dad); and a Holocaust survivor who sets out to kill his father’s Nazi executioner (Cojot).
Dr. Logan Rutten is a national award-winning scholar in teacher education and a former K-12 classroom teacher. He will serve as project faculty and co-director for this Institute. Currently affiliated with the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Initiative at Penn State, Rutten designs, implements, and researches inquiry-based professional learning for K-12 teachers with a focus on difficult topics and issues in curriculum and educational practice. Rutten's recent publications appear in journals such as Teaching and Teacher Education, Action in Teacher Education, the Journal of Educational Supervision, and School-University Partnerships. He is Associate Editor of The Cambridge Handbook of School-University Partnerships (forthcoming).
Dr. Kobi Kabalek is Assistant Professor of German and Jewish Studies, Penn State University. He earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia, with a dissertation on “The Rescue of Jews and the Memory of Nazism in Germany” (2013). In 2014-2017, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as part of the ERC project “Experience, Judgment, and Representation of WWII in an Age of Globalization,” and examined conflicting perspectives concerning the war in Mandatory Palestine and their impact on the postwar historiography of Israel and Zionism. His research focuses on historical perceptions, moral sentiments, and memory in film, literature, auto/biography, oral narratives, art, etc., in German, Israeli, and global Holocaust history. He currently explores marginalized and extreme phenomena in Holocaust testimonies, historical writing, and popular culture – with special attention to the role of fantasy, imagination, and horror – and their impact on our understanding and representation of the Holocaust.
Dr. Scott Metzger is a scholar of history education and will serve as project faculty for this Institute. He was a high-school teacher before earning his Ph.D. from Michigan State University and now works with undergraduate and graduate students in secondary (7-12) social-studies teacher certification and courses on history and social studies topics. With research expertise in history teaching, learning, and curriculum, Metzger’s work focuses on what and how people learn and think about the past, including media/technology and classroom discussion of social and historical difficult topics. He was lead editor of the Wiley International Handbook of History Teaching and Learning (2018).
Dr. Danielle Butville is a former classroom teacher whose work explores inquiry as a stance and as pedagogy in K-12 classrooms; she will serve as project faculty for this Institute. Butville’s current research examines practitioner inquiry and its impacts on preservice teachers’ dispositions and stance towards teaching once they enter the classroom. Butville contributes expertise in the integration of school curricula with students’ curiosities to create inquiry communities in classrooms. In recognition of her student-centered scholarship, Butville was recently awarded a grant from the Conference on English Educators (CEE) and the James Moffett Memorial Award by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Jackie Kemper (Secondary Social Studies Teacher in York, Pennsylvania) will serve as a K-12 leader for this Institute. Over her 26-year career, she has taught middle and high school history at all levels (Honors, Academic and Dual Enrollment). Kemper is currently teaching Honors World History, Honors Government, Holocaust Literature, Modern 20th Century, and a WW2/Holocaust elective. She has been teaching about the Holocaust since 2001 and has created three courses focused on the Holocaust and genocide studies. Her commitment to Holocaust education led her to earn an MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies in 2016 from Gratz College. In 2016, she also participated in the Jan Karski Institute for Holocaust Education; in 2018 she was chosen to participate in the Echoes and Reflections Advanced Learning Seminar at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem and was appointed a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow for 2018-2019. Kemper will be available to all participants to consult with them one-on-one about their development and implementation of their classroom applications throughout the summer residency and the 2023-2024 academic year.
Andrew Warren (High School Social Studies Teacher, Southern York County School District, York County, Pennsylvania) will serve as a K-12 leader for this Institute. An experienced Holocaust educator who has participated in the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Initiative’s previous inquiry-based programming, Warren will contribute his experience to the design of the application-focused components of the institute. Warren will be available to all participants to consult with them one-on-one about their development and implementation of their classroom applications throughout the summer residency and the 2023-2024 academic year.
Stacy Sterndale is a former classroom teacher in secondary biological science and environmental science; she will serve as this Institute’s technological expert and project administrator. Stacy earned her B.S. in environmental science from Albright College in 2011 and interned with the School for Field Studies in wildlife management. She earned her teaching certification from Juniata College in 2014. Her areas of educational interest are designing and facilitating experiential learning, cultivating student autonomy through flipped classroom approaches, and creating collaborative classroom communities through inquiry.
Educators in Residence
Emily Biedka teaches English Language Arts and Literary Media Arts at Arts Academy Charter Middle School in Allentown, PA. Ms. Biedka has been teaching since 2016. As a holistic educator, Ms. Biedka educates and empowers her students through whole-child trauma-informed educational approaches. In English Language Arts, students explore history and identity through a variety of media built around the central text of The Diary of Anne Frank. In Literary Media Arts, students study journalism and media. Ms. Biedka teaches the power of journalism and media, critiquing its use to spread ideology. Ms. Biedka teaches that words have power and that students are capable of harnessing that power.
Melissa Bryan (High School English and ESL Teacher and Supervisor of English and Social Studies, Rumson-Fair Haven School District, Rumson, NJ) teaches English I and has previously taught most levels of ESL education (Novice-Advanced), English I Honors, English II and English II Honors, English III as well as at the college level and graduate level. She has been teaching about the Holocaust since 2007. Ms. Bryan developed her instructional practices in teaching about Holocaust and Genocide Literature through Facing History professional development training in 2016, and she hopes to continue to improve her instruction through the NEH summer institute. Moving forward, Ms. Bryan plans to bring lessons learned from the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Initiative at Penn State back to her district for the benefit of the faculty and students as well for the purposeful engagement with historical events that help us compassionately navigate humanitarian issues today.
Matthew Chernick is a Social Studies Teacher at McCall Middle School in Winchester, Massachusetts where he currently teaches 6th Grade Ancient Civilization. He has previously taught middle school English Language Arts and English as a Second Language. In addition to his teaching duties, Matthew advises the Student Council and Multicultural Club at McCall. He holds a Masters of Teaching in Secondary Social Studies and a Master of Arts in Comparative Humanities, both from Brandeis University. Prior to working in secondary education, Matthew was awarded a US State Department Fulbright Student Grant to Romania where he worked as an English language and literature lecturer at Lucian Blaga University in Sibiu, Transylvania.
Molly Dallmeyer (Secondary Social Studies Teacher - Dallastown Area High School, Dallastown Area School District, York County, PA) has taught Social Studies for 25+ years. As an educator at Dallastown Area High School, Dallmeyer introduced, designed and implemented the Holocaust Studies course in her department, which was initiated in 2000. Each year, Dallmeyer teaches this course to over 340+ students in her district, and has been elected to serve as a member of the Alumni Society Board of the Pennsylvania State University College of Education. A highlight of her career was the honorary diploma from Dallastown High School which was granted to her friend, Rubin Sztajer, in 2014. Sztajer, a Polish Holocaust survivor who spoke to Dallmeyer's classes for over seven years, was unable to finish his education at age 13, and impacted hundreds of students and staff alike at DHS as a witness to the Shoah.
Katie Engemann is a third-year Social Studies teacher in the Gasconade Co. (Missouri) R-1 School district, working primarily with students from sophomores to seniors. The current focus of her teaching is on world history, world geography, and economics. Her teaching facilitates a student’s educational experience through inquiry method activities. She pursued her Bachelor's Degree of Science with an emphasis in secondary social studies education and a history minor from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri. Additionally, she is certified to teach students in grades 5-12.
As a trained research historian, Michael Fauser has worked for some of the leading national Holocaust institutions and collaborated extensively with many international museums, archives and IGOs. Fauser has been fortunate to have participated in several projects dedicated to identifying Nazi war criminals, reclaiming European Jewish cemeteries destroyed during the war and documenting survivor testimonies for future research. After nearly a decade in the field, Fauser began looking for new opportunities to carry this message and decided education was the most effective means to do so. Fauser attained a post baccalaureate certification in education and was awarded a fellowship in the education department at the The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. The Museum of Jewish Heritage is known as A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, due to its celebration of life, involvement in the community and hope for the future.
Jessica Fernandez was inspired to pursue Literature and English Language studies by reading the work of authors Shirley Jackson, Harper Lee, and George Orwell. After graduating from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she honed her teaching skills as a Prevention Educator for a non-profit organization. Fernandez realized she wanted to have a greater impact on students by exploring what it means to be human and cultivating healthy dialogue through the spoken and written word. In 2019, she transitioned to teaching English Language Arts at Hola Dual Language Charter School in Hoboken, New Jersey. Fernandez is passionate about instilling a love of reading in her 7th and 8th-grade students and inspiring them to use their voice and agency to make a positive difference in the world.
Shannon Irish Foster is a secondary English literature teacher at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Maryland. Her 27-year career in education includes teaching public school in Texas, homeschooling her own children, and teaching private school in Maryland. She received a BA in Theatre with a minor in English at Southwestern Univesity in Georgetown, TX, and is currently pursuing her MA in English Lit at Texas Tech University. She is currently teaching AP English Literature and Composition and British Literature. Her interests include the intersection of post-colonial literature and genocide literature and how best to implement those topics into the courses she teaches. She is also a proud military spouse and mother of three.
Gregory Gallet is a Social Studies teacher who earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Goucher College and his Masters in Teaching from Montclair State University. He works at the high school level in the state of New Jersey, primarily teaching Global History and US History to 9th and 10th grade students. Mr. Gallet’s work in graduate school has led him to focus his classroom practice on human rights education, inclusive and culturally responsive education, and the development of students’ critical thinking skills. In 2018, the New Jersey Holocaust Commission selected him to participate in the Infamous Sites of the Holocaust summer seminar.
Alexi Henderson is a high school social studies teacher in North Carolina. She received her BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures from Virginia Tech, and her MA in History from NC State, where she was awarded the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Thesis Award for her thesis on memory and the Vietnam War.
Kathleen Hess (English Language Arts Teacher in the Granite School District teaching 10th - 12th Grades) created a Social Justice Initiative Unit for each grade level encompassing Core, Honors, and AP students. With student choice guiding their reading, this unit invites open-minded students into civil discourses analyzing non-fictional and fictional literature revealing and bridging our global, abusive decades. Equally, the curriculum assists students in defining areas impacted by social injustices, identifying cultural misunderstandings and abuses, exploring more equitable solutions, and engaging in self-propelled remedies to bring greater equanimity to troubled areas. She heralds the mantra that perpetual learning breeds nutritious soil for enlightened teaching. Kathleen is a Granite 2022 Excel Award winner.
Alyssa Hockensmith is currently a high school English and History teacher in Jensen Beach, Florida. She teaches AP Seminar, English Composition 1 & 2, History of the Holocaust, and History of the Vietnam War. She’s been teaching for the last eight years and she has committed herself to continuing to learn and grow in her practice. Her commitment to learning Holocaust Studies has given her many professional opportunities, including a trip to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum with Florida Atlantic University. She is hoping to learn more about how to best help students grapple with topics relating to the Holocaust.
Melissa Kalwanaski is the K-12 Gifted Coordinator for Westmont Hilltop School District in Johnstown, PA, where she is in her 16th year of teaching. She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University twice over (‘04 Lib, ‘07 M.Ed.). She was a 2021-2022 National Association for Gifted Children Javits-Frasier Scholar and a member of the 2022 Albert H. Small Normandy Institute. She was also recently named the Pittsburgh Penguins Teacher of the Month for April 2023 and will be attending the National WWII Museum’s Collection to Classroom seminar on The Home Front, Entertainment, and World War II: Hollywood Goes to War this July. This will be Melissa’s fourth summer NEH program experience. Melissa also serves as the Scholastic Quiz & Science Bowl Coach, Coffee House Advisor, and HS Social Media Manager for her district.
Farrell Kelly (NBCT, Middle School Humanities Teacher and 2018 Teacher of the Year in Falls Church City, Virginia) has been teaching and developing English, Social Studies and Gifted Studies curricula for 16 years. Several years after earning his BA and MA in English Literature from the University of Virginia, he returned for a Master of Teaching degree. Long interested in issues of ethics and justice as they apply to our common humanity, he works to infuse his teaching with historical inquiry and interdisciplinary connections that allow his students to grapple with these subjects.
Melissa Kreider is an Eighth Grade English Language Arts teacher for the Hempfield School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She is in her fourth year in her current position and sixth year of teaching in total. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the Penn State College of Education. During her time in Education, Melissa has taught Holocaust literature every single year, and she looks forward to expanding her pedagogy on this diverse topic.
Ruth Kros has taught Social Studies at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Nebraska for 17 years. She currently teaches AP Psychology (Dual Enrollment course at the University of Nebraska at Omaha), Holocaust Awareness, Sociology, Introduction to Psychology, and Senior Studies (American Government / Social Justice course). She has been teaching about the Holocaust for 7 years in her Holocaust Awareness elective course. She has been part of the ADL Bearing Witness program in Israel, Echoes and Reflections Advanced Learning Seminar - Educational Journey through Poland with Yad Vashem, The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI) for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights Summer Seminar, International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust: Summer Academy Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum, Holocaust by Bullets level 1 & 2 training program, and more conferences and workshops. She looks forward to increasing her knowledge about effective teaching methods and practices in Holocaust education by being part of this NEH Institute.
Jordan Lutovsky currently serves as a US History, AP US History, and Holocaust & Genocide instructor at West Fargo Sheyenne High School in West Fargo, North Dakota. Jordan is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a degree in Social Science Education and began his teaching career in Warroad, Minnesota. In addition to his work as a classroom teacher, Jordan has been an assistant coach for high school boys’ hockey and American Legion baseball teams.
Mary Nolt has been a secondary social studies teacher for twelve years at Manheim Central High School in Manheim, Pennsylvania. The Department head for grades 9-12, she teaches primarily ninth and tenth graders. Mary teaches a variety of courses that include Advanced Placement United States History, History and Legacy of Imperialism, Doing History, History of Leadership and Leaders, and Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing. A graduate of James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia in 2009. She earned her teaching certification from Millersville University, Pennsylvania in 2010, and completed her Master of Arts in History in 2017.
Kelly Rosati has been a High School Social Sciences teacher for the past 23 years for Loudoun County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. Currently, Ms. Rosati is teaching AP World History: Modern and Dual Enrollment U.S. History. Ms. Rosati earned a Master's in Education in 2005 from George Mason University and a Master's in Educational Leadership from the College of William & Mary in 2021. Ms. Rosati is committed to providing her students with comprehensive and multi-faceted lessons and continues to seek to expand her own knowledge and understanding of historical events. Ms. Rosati traveled to Rwanda with a group of educators in 2016 and to Armenia with a group of educators in 2022.
Megan Santos is a high school teacher in the Seattle area. Her classes include World History, Contemporary Studies, U.S. History and Abnormal Psychology. After receiving her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State in 2022, Megan gained a passion for inquiry-based learning and served on the district curriculum adoption committee for World History where she worked to incorporate these practices. Her work includes restructuring the course to bring a greater focus to contemporary issues including civil rights and human rights abuses. In her school’s blocked humanities model, she works closely with English teachers to bring depth to these topics through the joint study of primary texts, literature and other media. Megan looks forward to bringing the resources and knowledge of the institute to this work.
A lifelong resident of New York's Lower East Side, Eli Shoshani grew up across the street from Katz's Deli, with the smell of pastrami wafting through his windows. After receiving an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, Shoshani’s first foray into teaching began when he joined The New York City Teaching Fellows. Shoshani is now the director of the Writing Center at Columbia Prep School (which supposedly Herman Melville attended!). He is one of eight kids, all readers, who grew up on a steady diet of Roald Dahl, The Hardy Boys and the like. Shoshani’s favorite authors now include I.B. Singer, Ralph Ellison, and Grace Paley. He is the father of two beautiful little girls--ages three and five--who also love reading (The Cat in the Hat variety).
Tiffany Smith has recently graduated from Grand Canyon University with her Bachelor of Arts in English for Secondary Education. She is currently working as a medical scribe while awaiting the commencement of the 2023-2024 school year, which will hopefully be the beginning of her career as an English Language Arts teacher at a local high school. She is passionate about educating students from a trauma informed perspective. She strives to create lessons that suit the individual needs of every student. Tiffany utilizes strategies and experience that she has gathered from all aspects of life, from customer service and loss prevention to wild mustang gentling.
Wendy Lane Smith is a fifth grade teacher in the Red Lion Area School district. She teaches reading, writing and social studies. Prior to teaching fifth grade she taught K-8 gifted support. Her first two degrees were in vocal music and then education found her and her life has not been the same since. An avid cyclist and runner, Wendy enjoys travel around the world with her husband Tom Maganas. She also enjoys painting and other artistic pursuits in her spare time. Having spent the past two years learning about inquiry and ways to approach difficult topics with students, she is very excited to be a part of the Institute.
Ryan Sylvia (High School Social Studies Teacher, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, Bristol County, Massachusetts) An experienced educator of World History, Local History, and Economics he was awarded a fellowship with the Transatlantic Outreach Program. This Berlin and Washington D.C. organization chose fifteen United States teachers to travel together to Germany for a fifteen day educational experience. As part of this opportunity he was able to explore many aspects of Germany’s past and present connections to the Holocaust. These experiences included discovering some of the 70,000 Stolpersteine stones and the stories attached to them, visiting the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, being educated about the mission of the International Tracing Service, and visiting the Berlin based Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. At the core of his teaching philosophy is, “You don’t need to agree with someone to respect or even befriend them.”
Gertrude Tesar is a Secondary Social Studies Teacher in North Huntingdon Pennsylvania. She has been teaching ninth grade United States and Pennsylvania history at Norwin High School for the past two years. Her classes cover the period from 1840 to 1920 including the transatlantic slave trade, slavery in the United States, and the treatment of Native American groups during western expansion. Gertrude graduated from Saint Vincent College in 2021 with a B.A. in History and her Social Studies teaching certification. Her undergraduate research and senior thesis focused on the human rights abuses committed against Indigenous groups in Canada including residential schools and involuntary sterilization. She is interested in expanding her understanding of best practices in teaching difficult topics, trauma informed teaching, and helping students engage with historical topics.
Whitney Threinen is a high school English Language Arts teacher in Byron, Minnesota. She graduated from McKendree University (Lebanon, Illinois) with a teaching certification and a BA in English in 2008, and has spent the last 15 years teaching high school in southeast Minnesota. Whitney earned her Masters in Literature in 2014 from Winona State University, and she has previously attended an NEH summer seminar at the University of California at Santa Cruz which focused on Charles Dickens. Whitney enjoys teaching a variety of courses, including British Literature, Science Fiction, and 9th grade English, which is where she will be applying the knowledge gained from the work of this year's Holocaust and Genocide Institute.
Alyssa Walsh is currently a Grade 7 Social Studies teacher at Barnstable Intermediate School in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Over the past 12 years, she has taught grades 5, 6, and 7 Social Studies and spent 2 years as a middle school athletic director. Alyssa earned her BA in History at Saint Michael's College in 2011 and MA in Teaching History from Bridgewater State University in 2018. Alyssa currently teaches an Ancient Civilizations curriculum with modern history and current event connections including the Holocaust and other genocides. She looks forward to developing a wider depth of knowledge at the Summer Institute and applying her learning in the classroom during the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.
Lori Woods is Freshman World History and Dual Enrollment Instructor for History of Western Civilization at Danville High School in Danville, Illinois and an instructor for the University of Illinois Principal Scholars Program. Lori is a graduate of Purdue University with a B.A. and M.A. in History. Besides continuing education institutes through Gilder Lehrman and other universities, she is an accredited National WWII Master Teacher from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Lori sponsors the Future Problem Solvers Program at Danville High which has placed in the top three for Community Problem Solving at the International Finals multiple times. Team projects include a joint project with Moriah College in Sydney, Australia addressing the global need to end the stigma of mental health. Lori has coached several students and three teams to the middle school National History Bee finals and multiple state ranked Scholastic Bowl teams.
Jessica Yablow has been a Special Education teacher for the past twenty years. She is also a mentor teacher, team leader and runs a program for children with special needs at her local temple. She holds three masters degrees in literacy, behavioral analysis and school administration. Her areas of educational interests are teaching about neurodiversity, the science of reading and the importance of early intervention.
Becki Zanardi taught middle and high school English for 28 years before retiring from the traditional classroom after the 2022 school year. In that setting, she taught Holocaust literature for 14 years including The Diary of Anne Frank and Night. She was appointed a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow for 2018-2019. She earned an MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies in 2021. Becki presently serves as an instructor for the Nebraska Institute for Holocaust Education’s “Searching for Humanity” programs. In addition, she is a trainer and facilitator for the traveling exhibit program for the Anne Frank Center of the University of South Carolina-Columbia.
Where are our Educators in Residence coming from?
Our 30 Educators in Residence join us from all over the country, representing 15 different states.
This Institute has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. The Institute is being hosted by the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative at Penn State. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Institute do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.