Ripley schoolteacher set to mark anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

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A teacher from The Ripley Academy is one of 25 from across the world to be chosen to support the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Steve Richardson will travel to Poland to take part in a four-day workshop designed to increase the understanding of the country before, during and after the Holocaust.

He is the only teacher from the UK to have been given a place and will be joined by teachers from 11 different countries, including the USA, Australia, Rwanda, Finland, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

The workshop is being run as part of Auschwitz: The Past is Present, a global project to support the official observance of the 70th largest concentration camp complex of its kind established by the Nazi regime.

Mr Richardson was chosen to take part by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and Discovery Education.

During the workshop, he will work with a website called IWitness which brings together testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocide, including the Holocaust.

He will also meet a large number of Holocaust survivors before the commemoration ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on January 27.

A ‘virtual field trip’ is also being created to bring the 70th anniversary commemoration directly into classrooms.

Mr Richardson, Sixth Form director of learning at the academy, said he was thrilled to have been awarded a place.

He said: “Initially I felt very surprised to be chosen, but I felt honoured and feel a sense of responsibility to ensure my experiences are passed on through my teaching to my students.”

Holocaust education has always been important to Mr Richardson, who has been involved in organising student visits to Auschwitz.

He said: “I’m passionate about the value of Holocaust education, the lessons to be learnt and the importance of engaging young people in future genocide prevention awareness.

“High quality Holocaust education is an effective way to challenge racism and teach the essential human values of tolerance and respect.”

Mr Richardson said the workshops would allow teachers to learn more about how to keep history alive for generations to come.

He said: “The workshops will involve engaging with and learning to use the new multimedia materials produced by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation.

“They will also provide the opportunity of working alongside fellow professionals from around the world, sharing ideas and good practice.

“The programme will culminate with all the participants attending the 70th liberation at Auschwitz-Birkenau alongside many of the survivors of the camp.”

Mr Richarson said he would use what he learns in Poland to further develop lessons with Year nine students and in the Sixth Form at The Ripley Academy.

The workshop begins on January 23, 2015, at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.