Tag Archive | "School of Education and Human Development"

Holocaust Educator Honored for ‘Repairing the World’


Holocaust Educator Honored for ‘Repairing the World’

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

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Miriam Klein Kassenoff

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 14, 2016) — Teaching the painful history of and lessons from the Holocaust is Miriam Klein Kassenoff’s passion. As an educational specialist for Holocaust studies for the School of Education and Human Development and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, she has trained more than 33,000 teachers over the past 15 years.

This month, Klein Kassenoff, a child survivor of the Holocaust who fled Nazi Europe with her parents, was honored for her passion with the 53rd Tikkun Olam Award by The Haiti Jewish Refugee Legacy Project.

“I am humbled by every award that I have received,” said Klein Kassenoff. “But this one took me by surprise. It shows that if you do the work you love, rewards will come to you.”

Named for a fundamental Jewish principle that means “repairing the world,” the Tikkun Olam Award honors individuals who have made a considerable contribution toward that principle. It was granted by the founders and publishers of the Haiti Jewish Refugee Legacy Project blog, Bill and Harriet Mohr.

Established after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, the Mohrs’ project seeks to gather information about Haiti’s Holocaust history. Bill Mohr and his family were members of a group of 300 Jews who were given refuge by Haiti during the Holocaust.

“We wanted to recognize the outstanding contributions of a wide range of individuals who are working to raise awareness of important issues that need to be addressed in the context of Tikkun Olam,” Bill and Harriet Mohr said in a written statement. “They have moved forward to ‘repair the world’ and from their perspective, take action in ways that have beneficial results for society and can positively impact the general welfare of humanity.”

The Mohrs added that they had “tremendous respect for Klein Kassenoff’s viewpoint, which is to compellingly present to educators the lessons of the Holocaust so their students learn moral, ethical teachings that can be brought into their present lives in an empowering way.”

Klein Kassenoff studied at Yad Vashem, the International Center for Holocaust Studies in Israel, and is a graduate of the prestigious international Vladka Meed Teachers Program. In 2014, she was selected by the Miami Consul General of Germany for a tour of “Jewish Germany Today.”

Her many credits include being an author, writer, and lecturer on various topics on the Holocaust, including “Women in The Holocaust” and “Literature of The Holocaust,” as well as co-authoring, with Anita Meyer Meinbach, two books, Studying the Holocaust Through Film and Literature and Memories of The Night: A Study of The Holocaust.



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Wendy Cavendish Selected as Visiting Research Scholar at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute


Wendy Cavendish

Wendy Cavendish, associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the School of Education and Human Development, has been selected as Visiting Research Scholar at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute for the 2015-16 academic year.

Affiliated with the City University of New York, the Roosevelt House honors the distinguished legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by focusing on a three-fold mission: to educate students in public policy and human rights, to support faculty research, and to foster creative dialogue. The institute provides opportunities for students to analyze public policy and experience meaningful civic engagement; for faculty to research, teach, and write about important issues of the day; and for scholarly and public audiences to participate in high-profile lectures, seminars, and conferences.

Cavendish will collaborate with Roosevelt House Faculty Associate Jennifer Samson on a project analyzing the legislative impacts of improving inequality. Their project, Intersections of Inequality: Legislative Legacies of Poverty, Race, Language, and Disability in Educational Policy, examines the enduring effects of legislation intended to address structural inequalities. Samson and Cavendish will analyze data on implementation outcomes, as well as the intended and unintended consequences of these educational policies. Their work will culminate in a policy report and a symposium that brings together researchers, practitioners, and policy makers.


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At UM, Breakthrough Miami Primes Teens for High School Success


At UM, Breakthrough Miami Primes Teens for High School Success

Julissa Tello, left, and Wedley Valenbraum learn about anatomy by building skeletons form marshmallows and spaghetti.

Julissa Tello, left, and Wedley Valenbraum learn about anatomy by building skeletons from marshmallows and spaghetti.

By Robin Shear
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 30, 2015) —“I want to see big. I want to see three dimensions. Make it spacious.” Those were the instructions College Bound teaching fellow Robert Harriss gave students in his vertebrate anatomy class as he handed out boxes of raw spaghetti and bags of marshmallows. The youngsters paired up and then dug into the materials, creating everything from human skeletons to fish skeletons.

In its second year at the School of Education and Human Development, the Breakthrough Miami College Bound summer institute brought more than 100 high-achieving students from schools throughout Miami-Dade County to the Coral Gables campus for six weeks of academic enrichment. With participants heading into ninth grade in the fall, College Bound is intended to keep their minds actively engaged and primed for high school success during the break with daily core classes in literature, history, and math, along with electives selected from the majors of their teaching fellow instructors. The teaching fellows are college students from around the nation, and this summer the electives they taught ranged from psychology and anatomy to broadcast journalism.

“It’s a privilege to attend,” said Cameryn Johnson, 16, a former College Bound participant who served as a volunteer for teaching fellow Jessica Ramos this summer. A University of Illinois student, Ramos taught literature and broadcast journalism. Students in her journalism elective had the chance to create a movie trailer, from conception to acting to editing, for a drama about “a nerd and a bully” who ultimately work through their differences and become friends.

The College Bound experience likely had as great an impact on Ramos as it did on her students, several of whom wrote  her letters of appreciation that brought tears to her eyes. “I’m meant to be here,” she said.

The College Bound summer institute is part of Breakthrough Miami’s tuition-free academic program that starts with 5th grade and continues through high school graduation. During the school year, Breakthrough Miami serves over 1,000 highly motivated students from under-resourced communities all over Miami-Dade County at five sites, including the University of Miami.


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No Kidding! Dean Recognized Among the Nation’s Best Humor Columnists


No Kidding! Dean Recognized Among the Nation’s Best Humor Columnists

Isaac Prilleltensky

Isaac Prilleltensky

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 15, 2015) —An international leader in community  psychology, Isaac Prilleltensky has received many honors for tackling serious societal problems. Now the National Newspaper Association is recognizing the dean of the School of Education and Human Development for his humor, awarding one of his Miami Today musings second Best Humorous Column in its annual writing contest.

As the judges noted, Prilleltensky’s May 2014 column about soccer legend David Beckham’s desire to build a soccer stadium at PortMiami was original, clever, and an obviously planned humorous look at a topic of concern—which few people can pull off well.

“Planned humor, especially with a lightly sarcastic touch, is difficult to write successfully, but this writer succeeds,” the judges noted in selecting the column, headlined “Seal deal for soccer at seaport fast, before the waters rise,” for second place honors in the daily and non-daily division of newpapers with circulations over 8,000.

Among his many honors, Prilleltensky, the Erwin and Barbara Mautner Chair in Community Well-Being, received the Society of Counseling Psychology’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Prevention last year. He is also the author of seven books and more than 120 articles and chapters in numerous professional journals, including The Counseling Psychologist, which dedicated a special issue to his work promoting prevention, well-being, and social justice for such social ills such as poverty and discrimination.

But he regularly flexes his writing muscles—and sense of humor—on a wide range of topics in local newspapers and on his blog, Going Wellnuts: The Humor Blog for Well-Being. And, if Miami Today Publisher Michael Lewis has his way, he won’t be resting on his laurels. “I hope you’ll keep sending your award-winning columns our way,” Lewis wrote in a congratulatory email.

Miami Today, a trusted and well-known source for local business news, will pick up the award in October.


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Holocaust Institute Provides Insights on Anti-Semitic Violence

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Holocaust Institute Provides Insights on Anti-Semitic Violence

By Richard Westlund
Special to UM News 


The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Michael Berenbaum was one of the “extraordinary speakers” at this year’s Holocaust Studies Summer Institute.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 11, 2015) —Seventy years after World War II ended, anti-Semitism remains a serious problem in Europe. But unlike the dark days of Nazi Germany, hate crimes against Jews draw immediate condemnation, according to one of the nation’s leading Holocaust scholars.

“The response to anti-Semitic violence in France, Denmark, Germany, and other nations has been overwhelming support and sympathy for the Jews,” said Michael Berenbaum, founding project director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., at the 2015 Holocaust Studies Summer Institute, held June 8-12 at Storer Auditorium. “Today’s anti-Semitism is a very serious problem, but it is a different phenomenon than the Holocaust.”

More than 70 Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers attended the professional development program, which was sponsored by the School of Education and Human Development, with support from the School of Business Administration, the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, and WLRN Public Radio and Television for South Florida.

“Our teachers benefit from gaining new information and access to new resources, so they can develop their lesson plans and teach the Holocaust properly in keeping with the state mandate,” said Miriam Klein Kassenoff, the institute director and district education specialist with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. “We have teachers who come back year after year to learn from our extraordinary speakers.”

One returning attendee was Jennifer Levinson, a media specialist at Norman S. Edelcup Sunny Isles Beach K-8. “This program brings in top scholars who share their findings with us,” she said. “In turn, we pass that information on to other teachers. The session on using the Internet for Holocaust studies was particularly helpful in that regard.”

Institute participants also heard firsthand testimony from Holocaust survivors, including Kassenoff, who escaped as a child. Berenbaum also narrated the horrifying testimony of Rudolf Reder, who was one of only two people to survive the Belzec death camp where 500,000 to 600,000 Jews perished.

In his talk on the “Stages to Auschwitz”—the steps that led to the genocide, Berenbaum discussed the moral courage that many Jews displayed, even when knowing their fate. He also talked about how a few Jews were able to “hide in plain sight” while living in German-occupied Europe. “One woman learned to laugh out loud in crowds, because someone who was Jewish would never call attention to themselves,” he said. “She instinctively used reverse psychology in order to survive.”


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