Stanly teacher one of five in state to win NCCAT scholarship for Poland trip

Photo courtesy of Stanly County Schools

ALBEMARLE — At the Stanly County Board of Education’s April 5 meeting, Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis heralded Meredith Howell — a South Stanly High English teacher — for her recent $2,500 scholarship that was presented last month by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). 

Howell is one of just five teachers in North Carolina who were awarded the scholarship that represents the NCCAT Development Foundation’s Holocaust Endowment Fund, an monetary outreach of ongoing support for statewide Holocaust education that will cover the majority of expenses for an intensive one-week seminar in Poland in June 2022. 

“The teacher participants together with two NCCAT Teacher-educators (also funded by the endowment) will visit the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Majdanek and learn about the Holocaust in the cities of Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin,” a NCCAT press release stated. “There will be a special half-day teacher’s educational seminar at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and a dialogue with Polish high school history teachers.” 

Originally set for a June 2022 trip, the plans have been postponed until next summer in light of the surrounding refugee crisis and warfare in central Europe.  

“I pursued this in hopes of the new House bill that’s coming up,” Howell told the school board. “In February 2021, House Bill 69 was passed stating that North Carolina is requiring Holocaust education to be integrated into the 6-12 classrooms. It’s also requiring that local districts create and implement a Holocaust Studies elective.” 

Howell said that she learned a lot about the law when she went to the NCCAT Holocaust gathering of educators in March.  

While details about the state’s upcoming required studies are still unknown, she said that she would like to take a leadership role in implementing them: “I think that this opportunity would really help me make sure that it’s implemented correctly with forethought and that it’s high quality Holocaust education, not just any Holocaust education.” 

According to the NCCAT, the trip will be led by Rabbi Fred Guttman and veteran Holocaust educator Lee Holder. Guttman has been a Holocaust educator for over 40 years and has led 19 educational seminars in Poland, while Holder is a longtime member of the NC Council on the Holocaust and director of the Gizella Gross Abramson Resource Center for Holocaust and Civil Rights Education in Kinston, North Carolina.   

Gracen Banning (Wake County), Carla Beck (Clay County), Ricki Stewart (Dare County) and Dina Uzzell (Wayne County) were the other four winners of the state award.