- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

SARDIS CITY, Ala. (AP) - Farrah Hayes uses stories from one of the most tragic periods in history to teach English to her students at Sardis High School.

Her teaching methods have caught the attention of others and earned her a fellowship this summer at Columbia University in New York.

The fellowship is through the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous and its purpose is to educate about the Holocaust.

One of the goals of the program is to teach the teachers that attend how to teach about the Holocaust, Hayes said.

The six-day program includes 30 American teachers and all but two are from the New York City and New Jersey areas. There also are 20 international teachers included.

“It’s so humbling to be chosen for this,” Hayes said.

She was nominated for the fellowship by the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, which is familiar with Hayes because she has used many of their programs to teach about the Holocaust.

She has used Holocaust curriculum in the classroom for the last 10 years.

Hayes taught at Piedmont for six years and when she first went into her classroom, the previous teacher left some books behind.

Among those books was “Night” by Elie Wiesel, a classic about a Holocaust survivor.

She read the book and fell in love with it, so to speak.

Hayes decided to use the book as part of the curriculum in her English class, and her students fell in love with it as well.

“The students loved this book,” she said. “They seemed to be amazed by the story of the Holocaust.”

She thinks it is a good way to teach literature.

“It helped their reading and writing skills,” she said.

The program was so popular the first year, Hayes has continued and expanded it each year.

She teaches it in April, which is Holocaust Memorial Month.

Hayes said the method of teaching is effective because it gives the students a chance to be involved by researching and then analyzing the writings.

“I’m not just throwing facts at them,” she said. “They’re taking it in.”

Hayes said English literature and language curriculum sometimes is about reading Shakespeare and other classics and diagramming sentences. However, using a book about an major era in history seems to get the students even more excited.

“This makes them actually feel it through the book,” she said.

Hayes plans to take Advanced Placement students in language and literature to the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center on Monday with funding from a grant she applied for and was awarded through Target. The trip will be paid for 54 students.

She said the students are excited about learning about the Holocaust, and that makes her even more excited about learning how to better teach it.

Hayes said the program at Columbia University includes classes from historians and professors, but also offers a chance to meet and talk with a different Holocaust survivor each day.

Those who complete the fellowship will have an opportunity to go on a trip through the university in the summer of 2016 to visit Germany and Poland, including several concentration camp sites.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hayes said. “I just hope I’m able to bring some of what I learn back. I want to be able to reach the students even more, and want to be able to inspire other teachers about the Holocaust.”

___

Information from: The Gadsden Times, https://www.gadsdentimes.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide