IHS teacher receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant

Published 10:29 am Thursday, April 11, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Isabella High School teacher Rachel Hartsell has been selected as one of only 16 teachers in the country to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to attend a Holocaust education seminar this summer.

“Teaching the Holocaust through Visual Culture” is a Summer Scholar’s Program at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and will include 10 days “of very intensive seminar training,” Hartsell said.

Hartsell said she was “honored and humbled” to be selected for the prestigious program.

She said national seminars like this one give her the opportunity to sit beside and hear from “some of the brightest minds in modern Holocaust scholarship.”

The social studies teacher said she heard about the opportunity from a fellow teacher in Birmingham Holocaust Education Center group for educators.

This will be the fifth national conference Hartsell has attended on this topic. The drive for learning more through attending these events comes partially from her students.

“I never want them to be limited because of where we are geographically,” Hartsell said.

Through these in-depth study opportunities, Hartsell is able to bring information back to her students that she hopes will prompt them to stand up for what is right in the face of current injustices.

Hartsell also hopes that through her study and teaching about The Holocaust, she and her students can “find meaning in the experiences of the people who lived through this time in history” and learn from it.

Hartsell said those who study The Holocaust want to learn from it in order to “make the world a better place.”

According to Hartsell, many do not realize that there are Holocaust survivors living in Alabama today. Recently, the Chilton/Clanton campus of Jefferson State Community College had a display telling the stories of some of these survivors.

“I’m so glad and pleased and excited that this community really embraces Holocaust study,” Hartsell said.

Another aspect of Holocaust study Hartsell is interested in is the art theft by the Nazis and how some of these paintings are now being returned to the families.

“That there are some reparation efforts being made excites me,” Hartsell said.

“Teaching the Holocaust through Visual Culture” will be held July 8-19.