GLENDALE–A two-part workshop on the Armenian Genocide began Thursday helping about 70 teachers explore the Armenian Genocide from multiple school districts throughout Los Angeles County.
The workshop was sponsored by the Glendale Unified School District, which will pay its teachers their regular hourly rates for attending both sessions.
Facing History and Ourselves delivers classroom strategies, resources and lessons that inspire young people to take responsibility for their world. Each year they reach more than 1.8 million students through their global network of more than 25,000 educators, staff, adjunct faculty and international fellows facilitate hundreds of seminars and workshops annually.
Mary Robinson Hendra, Program Associate for Facing History and Ourselves, conducted the workshop through videos, discussion sessions, and a hands-on drawing activity. Teachers were guided through possible causes for genocide, like the mass killings between 1915 and 1918 of more than 1.5 million Armenia’s in the former Ottoman Empire. The second workshop session, held Thursday, focused on how individuals and nations respond to human rights violations.
“The Facing History and Ourselves workshop was most impressive. The depth of knowledge from Ms. Mary Hendra and the quality of those Glendale and Los Angeles teachers attending the workshop made my heart swell,” said Kay Mouradian, Professor of Health and Education, Los Angeles Community Colleges.
“Any time we, as a school district, can equip our teachers with the right knowledge and facts, it’ll benefit our nation and our community,” said Glendale Unified District board member Greg Krikorian, who spoke at the start of the event about his maternal and paternal grandparents, who were survivors of the Genocide.
“This workshop, teachers would be better able to relate to their students since a substantial proportion of the district is of Armenian descent,” Krikorian said. “It helps them connect with the history itself.”
Teachers at the event had varying levels of knowledge about the Armenian genocide, and most said they planned to learn more about it so they could bring up the history in class or be able to moderate discussions on the topic. Some said they were still confused about details, but were hopeful that the second session would help clear things up.
Victor Mejia, who teaches American literature to 11th graders at Hoover High School, said he had learned some new information from the session.
“It’s always a good thing to know as much as you can about the history and culture of the students you teach…I feel like it’s already opened up my eyes a little bit more,” Mejia said, later adding that he thought the information would be useful in his classes, which are predominantly Armenian.
“The historical background that teachers gain from the workshop will be especially valuable when teaching students of Armenian descent who have not learned the facts behind the often passionately discussed cultural event”, said Nancy Witt, a curriculum coach for the Glendale district.
“In families, sometimes these things are not talked about, especially not from a historical point of view,” Witt said. “They all know that a genocide took place, but what they want to know is why.”
“It’s my hope that through education of the historical facts and incorporating the Armenian Genocide into the California Public Education curriculum will bring the perpetrators to justice and put an end to over 93 years of denial and the return of our Homeland and most importantly (Mount Ararat)” stated Greg Krikorian, Member, Board of Education.