Lakeland teacher wins excellence award

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2004

India Meissel, a social studies teacher at Lakeland High School, was recently named the recipient of the Esther Goldman Award for Teaching Excellence.

This honor was given by the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater on Sunday, April 18th during the Yom Hashoah Ceremony (Day of Holocaust Remembrance) at Temple Israel in Norfolk.

Recipients of the commission’s three Teachers’ Awards for Excellence in Holocaust Education receive a full scholarship and airfare to attend the five-day &uot;Facing History and Ourselves&uot; summer institute for educators in Massachusetts.

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Bus transportation for teachers and their classes to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. is also provided.

Ms. Meissel was also presented a plaque at the ceremony and an autographed copy of Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz’s book Leap Into Darkness. Winners have the opportunity to have their lesson plans published on the Holocaust Commission’s website. Ms. Meissel submitted a lesson plan and answered several questions about her approach to teaching high school students about the Holocaust.

In her application, she wrote:

&uot;The images that she left with me have inspired me to create a lasting unit of study that goes beyond the limits of the traditional textbook. Understanding the past is one key to changing the future.&uot;

Over the years, Ms. Meissel has collaborated with English teachers to create an interdisciplinary approach to Holocaust education by combining readings from Elie Wiesel and others .

with her history lessons, and visits from Holocaust survivors to help students hear first-hand accounts.

The unit culminates with a field trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Esther Goldman, the woman for whom the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater named the award, was herself a Holocaust survivor.

She was committed to sharing her story so that young people could understand the dangers of prejudice, the importance of tolerance, and the value of moral courage