Parkland teacher wins Anne Frank Center honor


(JTA) — An educator whose classroom was targeted by the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been named Teacher of the Year by the New York-based Anne Frank Center.

Ivy Schamis was teaching her History of the Holocaust course when a gunman shot up her classroom in February, killing two students and injuring four. The gunman, a former student at the school in Parkland, Florida, also shot up two other classrooms. A total of 17 students and teachers were killed in the rampage.

Schamis will be recognized June 12 at the center’s 22nd annual gala and awards program honoring “worthy role models who uphold Anne Frank’s ideals of hope, justice, and equality.” She has been a Broward County social studies teacher for 18 years and launched her school’s Holocaust education program.

The center said in a statement that Schamis “teaches history as a tool for understanding today’s societal challenges such as violence and discrimination. Today, the lingering horror of two students shot to death in her classroom is juxtaposed with the national acclaim several of her students have received.”

Schamis said in the statement: “How can this happen, of all places, in a classroom where students were learning how to combat hate? The lessons of the Holocaust were coming alive right there in room 1214. Since that fateful day, the 4th period students have become a symbol of all Anne Frank stood for – loss of innocence coupled with unfailing optimism. They are more committed than ever to spread the message – HATE IS NEVER OKAY! And like the Holocaust Survivors we met online and in person, Resiliency of the Human Spirit prevails.”

Schamis has organized gatherings of students in her Holocaust class outside the school, including for ice cream and pizza. Schamis told The New York Times that she is planning to organize a trip for the students to visit England and Sweden, the family homelands of Nicholas Dworet and Helena Ramsay, the students in her class who were killed.

The other 2018 honorees are Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, writer Jud Newborn, Syrian refugee Mariela Shaker and Racquel Harris Mason of Coca-Cola. Rosa Strygler, a Holocaust survivor and philanthropist, is being honored posthumously.

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