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Wilson Southern Middle School’s Holocaust Project Receives AASL Roald Dahl Miss Honey Social Justice Award

CHICAGO, IL — Ann Yawornitsky, Jennifer Sarnes and Melissa Zawaski from Wilson Southern Middle School in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, are the recipients of the 2016 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Roald Dahl Miss Honey Social Justice Award. Sponsored by Penguin Random House, the Roald Dahl Award recognizes collaboration between school librarians and teachers in the instruction of social justice using school library resources.

School librarian Yawornitsky and 6th grade reading teachers Sarnes and Zawaski collaborated to create the project “Children of the Holocaust/Holocaust Hall of Memories.” After completing preliminary research, each student was given an identity card with the photo and name of a child who suffered in the Holocaust. Using multiple resources, students researched the fate of their child and created poems, journals or multimedia presentations to share their child’s life and experiences. To conclude, students host a Holocaust Hall of Memories open to the entire community. Students assume the identity of their child, saying “My name is…” and give a short account of their Holocaust experience.

During the project, a Holocaust survivor visits Wilson Southern. These honored guests present a program to the entire 6th grade and spend the remainder of the day in the school library where they meet with small class groups and answer questions. Guests have included Jack and Ruth Gruener, Marion Blumenthal Lazan, Severin Fayerman and Dr. Joseph Hirt.

“It is our hope that this unit teaches our students to see the good in everyone, to speak out against evil, to do their best to never forget their assigned child,” wrote Yawornitsky in their application. “We often tell the students that for some of the names they are assigned, we are the only ones saying that name out loud any longer. Our students are keeping them alive, and hoping to live in a world where we can say ‘never again.’”

“The committee was impressed with the both the number of faculty involved, the timeline of the project and the depth of the student involvement,” explains Terry Young, award committee chair.  “Today’s students do want to investigate and do want to make their education meaningful. The ‘Children of the Holocaust/Holocaust Hall of Memories’ project exemplifies students as producers of product coupled with lifelong learning.”

The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony during the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. The ceremony will be held from 9 – 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 25. All are welcome to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers during this recognition event taking place prior to the AASL President’s Program.

The American Association of School Librarians www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.

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