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Ellie DesPrez (English) and Jill Donovan (English)

August 8, 2019

Ellie DesPrez (English) and Jill Donovan (English) were mentioned in a story in the St. Louis Jewish Light on 08.08.19, in a story on their work at a Holocaust teaching conference: "Under the heading, 'highlights of my summer vacation,' teachers Ellie DesPrez and Jill Donovan say their time spent at the Belfer Conference in Washington, D.C. about tops the list. English teachers at John Burroughs School, the two were among 260 educators nationwide who attended one of two three-day conferences sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last month. The purpose was to equip educators with the knowledge and skills to effectively bring Holocaust education into their classrooms, with one conference geared toward English teachers and the other to social studies teachers. 'What I experienced at this conference, designed to help middle and high school teachers understand and practice the museum’s pedagogical approach to teaching about the Holocaust, will impact not only my curricular choices going forward, but my willingness to lean into and help my students wrestle with one of the darkest events in human history,' said Donovan, a veteran teacher who has been at Burroughs for about 10 years. Donovan heard about the conference after fellow English teacher DesPrez had attended the National Council of Teachers in English (NCTE) convention last November in Houston. DesPrez said she was looking for a NCTE session about Holocaust education, and found one sponsored by the Holocaust museum and TOLI (The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights). At that session, she picked up a flyer about the Belfer Conference. 'I brought it back to Burroughs and recruited a buddy (Donovan) because I think it’s better to have someone to talk to and process with. Then, if you want to implement some changes in your curriculum, you have an accountability partner,' said DesPrez. 'I haven’t happened to teach The Diary of Anne Frank or Night, (by Elie Wiesel), which are the two big books in Holocaust literature curriculum, and was looking for support and resources around that.' Both teachers said they found a whole lot of support, not only from Burroughs, which paid their travel and lodging expenses, but also at the conference, which was offered at no cost. There they participated in interactive sessions with Holocaust scholars and fellow teachers, toured the museum with curators and heard from Holocaust survivors. DesPrez said she especially enjoyed exploring the museum’s latest exhibition, “Americans and the Holocaust,” which examines American society in the 1930s and ’40s and the factors that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism." Read the whole article here.