2024 Holocaust Educator of the Year (HEDY) Award

The winner of the 2024 Holocaust Educator of the Year Award is Penny Selle, a visual arts, theology, and Holocaust studies teacher at Notre Dame de Sion Upper School in Kansas City, MO. Penny was recognized at the annual Academic Awards Ceremony on May 7, 2024 where she received an award of $500.

Jessica Rockhold, MCHE’s Executive Director, introduced Penny with these words:
“Over the course of her career, Penny has shown impressive dedication to furthering her own knowledge about the Holocaust and has demonstrated an outstanding level of engagement with MCHE programming and professional development sustained over many years. She comes from a school that is deeply committed to Holocaust education and has developed a remarkable relationship with one of our local survivors. Even in that environment, Penny is a standout who works to elevate the level of teaching and ensure that Holocaust education remains vital in the school. She encourages her students to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to their lives and develop their own moral compass.”

Penny Selle addresses the audience at MCHE’s Academic Awards Ceremony on May 7, 2024.

Penny’s acceptance speech included a brief history of Notre Dame de Sion (Our Lady of Zion) – a religious order founded in the 19th century by two French brothers who converted from Judaism. From its start, the order has focused on social justice and developing interfaith understanding.

Toward the conclusion of her remarks, Penny shared this:
“I start each semester telling my students that I came by my interest in Holocaust Studies quite naturally. A journalism major after returning from World War II, my father read everything he could get his hands on about the Holocaust. Though he was stationed in the Pacific, his brother, my Uncle Tom, was a paratrooper in Europe. When young Tom came home and recounted the stories he had heard from soldiers during liberation of the camps, the people in their small home town of Beloit, in north central Kansas, could not believe what they were hearing. How could such atrocities happen? It wasn’t until I got to undergrad that I learned not EVERYONE talks about Himmler, Goebbels & Hitler – Buchenwald, Bergen Belsen and Dachau – at the dinner table! Who knew?”

If you would like to read the full text of Penny’s speech, you may do so using the button below.

MCHE’s Holocaust Educator of the Year Award, recognizes an educator – currently teaching the Holocaust in grades 7-12 – who demonstrates excellence in the following areas:

  • Pedagogy – The teacher employs research-based, best-practice methods of Holocaust instruction specifically and teaching generally.
  • Continuous Learning – The teacher actively pursues professional development as a Holocaust educator by attending lectures, workshops, courses – online and in-person, and by reading. This teacher inspires students to learn about the Holocaust beyond the classroom.
  • Historical Knowledge of the Holocaust – The teacher strives to provide historically accurate information during instruction and models the practices of good historians in class activities.
  • Walking the Talk – The teacher demonstrates commitment to applying the lessons of the Holocaust in creating a more just and peaceful world today.

Nominations for HEDY may come from colleagues, administrators, current and former students, guardians of students, school board members, community members – anyone who has knowledge of a teacher’s commitment to Holocaust education. Teachers may nominate themselves. We would particularly like to encourage the nomination of teachers who frequently engage with MCHE’s programs.

Nominations for HEDY are currently closed.
Check back in the fall for your opportunity to nominate the 2024-25 Holocaust Educator of the Year.

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