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FAU Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education Recognizes Outstanding Holocaust Educators

Teachers Awarded Trip to Yad Vashem in Israel

BOCA RATON, Fla. (February 25, 2013) – Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education (CHHRE) recently held its annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner at the Lakeside Terrace and Banquet Center in Boca Raton. Teachers, families, Holocaust survivors and students gathered to celebrate each other and to recognize the exceptional work of three recipients of the Gutterman Family Outstanding Holocaust Educator of the Year Award.

“It is important to recognize the K-12 teachers who go above and beyond the basic requirements of the Holocaust education mandate,” said CHHRE Director Rose Gatens, Ph.D. “Each year, we celebrate the accomplishments of these outstanding individuals who are truly making a difference in the lives of their students, in their schools and in the world.”

Each year, the Center recognizes outstanding school teachers who have demonstrated a positive impact on their schools and the community in the field of Holocaust genocide and human rights education. The highly competitive Gutterman Family award enables winning teachers to study at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust National Museum in Jerusalem. The 140-hour program includes field trips throughout Jerusalem, and visits to the Ghetto Fighter’s Museum in North Israel and the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv.

The 2013 awardees are:

  • Belkis Madera ( teaches sixth grade Social Studies at Oak Hammock K-8 School in Port St. Lucie. She coordinates various school functions, including a Holocaust education program that resulted in a school museum and a special program with the Child Survivor/Hidden Children Organization of Palm Beach County, whose pictures form the core of the museum. She encourages her students to respect diversity through other school programs, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, the History Fair and an art exhibit on migration. Her many professional accomplishments include being a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar and a National Board Certified teacher in Social Studies. “Mrs. Madera exhibits a superior ability to foster excellence in education and contributes to student learning and the development of knowledge and leadership skills which will continue with these students throughout their lives,” said Oak Hammock K-8 School Principal Carmen Peterson.
  • Maureen Holtzer ( teaches Holocaust Studies and Law Studies at Palm Beach Central High School (PBCHS) in Palm Beach County. Ms. Holtzer serves as faculty advisor for Together Against Genocide, a group of students who are working to improve human rights throughout the world by raising more than $21,000 to build schools for refugee children of Darfur. She won the Star Award for Outstanding Teacher of Tolerance, and because of her efforts, Palm Beach Central High School has earned the Anti-Defamation League’s designation of a No Place for Hate school – the first in the county to receive this designation. Child Survivors/Hidden Survivors Speaker’s Bureau has recognized Ms. Holtzer for her Outstanding Participation in Holocaust Studies Program. She has two master's degrees and models lifelong learning to her students and colleagues. “The strong message of tolerance prevails in all that Ms. Holtzer brings to the students and staff of Palm Beach Central High,” stated Donna Baxter, PBCHS Social Studies Chair.
  • Monica Friedmann, Ph.D. ( is a three time graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, a College Board Consultant for AP Spanish Language and Literature and a College Board Reader for Spanish Language. For the past 12 years, Friedmann has taught a unit on Holocaust in Spanish to her Advanced Placement Spanish Language students at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton. Students practice their speaking, reading, listening and writing skills in Spanish while learning about the Holocaust. They also hear Holocaust survivors tell their stories in Spanish. Friedmann’s grandparents were murdered in Aushwitz-Birkenau, along with the rest of her extended family. Her parents survived the Holocaust by emigrating from Hungary to Uruguay, South America. As one of Friedmann’s students wrote, “The unit as a whole has truly changed my view of the Holocaust forever. I was enriched with new information and became one with the characters and experiences. It was one of the most influential and life changing subjects I have studied in school to this day.”

The award is funded by Arthur Gutterman, an FAU benefactor whose generous contributions help sustain the Center and its programs. The Center relies on private donations to provide professional development programs for teachers, classroom resources for teachers and students, all in support of Florida’s mandate for Holocaust education.

For more information, contact Rose Gatens at 561-297-2929 or


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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