Holocaust Museum Houston Receives $100,000 Grant for Innovative Educational Trunk Program

HOUSTON, TX (April 27, 2009) Thousands of students in schools across the United States will be able to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides in their own classrooms this year thanks to a $100,000 grant to fund Holocaust Museum Houston’s unique educational curriculum trunk program.

The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation made the gift to allow the Museum to continue its popular educational program designed to teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

The program, now known as "The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Curriculum Trunk Program," aims to broaden students’ hearts and minds by promoting tolerance, mutual respect and understanding among all people. More than 53,000 students benefited from the program during the 2007-2008 academic year, according to Museum Executive Director Susan Myers.

During that year, more than 1,000 participating teachers were provided with age-sensitive lesson plans free of charge. The curriculum trunks are filled with multimedia tools, such as videos, compact discs and CD-ROMs, as well as artifact kits, maps, posters and lesson plans for a class of 30 students to use for 30 days.

The learning tools aid in teaching students about social consciousness, personal responsibility and moral courage. Specific trunks are designed for teachers of students at elementary, middle, high school and college levels. Spanish-language trunks are also available at the high-school level, as are lessons for advanced placement classes.

With a curriculum developed by Dr. Errol Putman of Geneseo College, the elementary school trunks are designed to be age-sensitive and teach prejudice awareness without going into the horrors of the Holocaust. The subject of the Holocaust is introduced in materials for fifth-grade students. Materials also are specifically selected for kindergarten through fourth grade.

Middle school trunks teach the Holocaust with age-sensitive materials that encompass both social studies and language arts. High school social studies trunks are designed to teach the historical aspects of the Holocaust, while the language arts and advanced placement language arts trunks are designed to give high school and college-level teachers materials related to the Holocaust but that fit into the language arts curriculum.

New genocide trunks are designed to provide a comprehensive curriculum in the instruction of other genocides (such as in Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur) in middle and high school language arts and social studies classrooms.

The trunks are provided to teachers anywhere in the United States free of charge. Teachers interested in reserving a trunk should complete the online form at www.hmh.org or e-mail trunks@hmh.org.

"We are thrilled that this gift will allow the Museum to continue our flagship program of sending Holocaust materials to teachers, most of whom - without this grant - would not be able to teach these valuable lessons of life," Myers said. "Many teachers just do not have the resources available to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides. This gift will make that possible on a wide scale."

L. Michael Hajtman, president and director of the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, based in Houston, Texas, said the foundation made the gift because "it multiplies the mission of Holocaust Museum Houston and, specifically, in teaching the effect any individual can have in stopping hatred."

Richard J. Loewenstern, chairman of the foundation and a member of the Museum’s Board of Directors, said the value of the trunks is in their impact on young school-age children. "These trunks go to the young people who can make a difference in their world in the future," he said.

"The enormity of the Holocaust is almost incomprehensible," said Board member Nathan H. Topek. M.D. "These trunks filled with information and learning will be used to educate future generations of the evil of such an event and teach them diligently so that not even the smallest such atrocity will be perpetrated by future generations."
Foundation Director George W. Strake, Jr., stressed the importance of the trunk program in teaching history, especially within the context of the Holocaust, and cited a quotation from Winston Churchill as a reminder that "those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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