District Teachers Recognized

District Teachers Recognized For Excellence in Holocaust Education
Posted on 05/28/2019

Three School District of Palm Beach County teachers were recently honored as 2018 Gutterman Family Exemplary Holocaust Educators. Nancy Mensch, an ESOL Resource teacher at Egret Lake Elementary School; Mary Ellen Richichi, an 8th Grade U.S. History teacher at Independence Middle School; and Carolina Simon, a Holocaust Studies Program Director / 8th grade teacher at Loggers’ Run Middle School, received their awards during the Annual Educator Appreciation Dinner back in February.


The award is given by Florida Atlantic University's Center for Holocaust and Human Rights, and recognizes educators from elementary through high school who have demonstrated a positive impact on their schools and the wider community within the field of Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education. The award is funded by Arthur Gutterman, a benefactor whose contributions help sustain Florida Atlantic University's Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education programs.

The Center for Holocaust and Human Rights will fund a two-week trip to Israel and Poland for the award recipients, beginning on June 30. They will study at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. The award recipients will then travel to Oświęcim, Poland to tour Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former concentration camp which is now a memorial and museum.

Nancy MenschNancy Mensch – ESOL Resource Teacher 

Egret Lake Elementary School

I am deeply humbled and honored to win this prestigious award. It means that the hard work I do to educate students, staff, and the community is worthy of recognition.

As anti-Semitism is rising at an alarming rate in this country, it seems more important than ever that education is the only way to combat this crisis. By teaching about the Holocaust, hopefully humanity will not repeat the mistakes of the past.

I feel it is particularly important to teach students at the elementary level lessons of acceptance so they do not develop feelings of hate and bias towards others because of their differences.

It has been my lifelong goal to visit Israel where there is a wealth of information. I am excited to visit places like the Dead Sea, Masada, and the Western Wall, and have all the history I have been reading about come to life.

I have a passion for teaching about the Holocaust and this trip will enhance my opportunities to educate my students. After the trip I am hoping to collaborate and do presentations on what I have learned at different community venues.  

Mary Ellen RichichiMary Ellen Richichi – 8th Grade U.S. History Teacher

Independence Middle School 

It is a complete honor to be recognized as a Gutterman Family Exemplary Holocaust Educator. Receiving this award will allow me to expand my knowledge and open up more educational opportunities to enhance my teaching of the Holocaust. Due to hate crimes still occurring today, it is imperative that I teach my students to be compassionate global citizens.  

If the younger generation comprehends the wrongness of the past, this can result in people of different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and genders being accepting and understanding of others in the future.  

There are so many amazing sites arranged on the Poland and Israel trip. I am looking forward to visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, Yad Vashem, and Independence Hall. The beauty of traveling is to gain a historical perspective of history and how historical events are taught.

I seek to enhance my knowledge and teaching of the Holocaust by listening to renowned historians, professors, and tour guides on the trip. Every step of the way, I will be soaking up all of the information to bring back into my classroom.  

Carolina SimonCarolina Simon – Holocaust Studies Program Director / 8th Grade Teacher

Loggers’ Run Community Middle School

Winning this award is both humbling and invigorating. I have always believed that it’s important to teach the ugly parts of human history in order to grow beyond that way of being and do better than our ancestors.

Teaching the Holocaust is often a more entangled web than the average person is willing to unravel. Yet, the rise in anti-Semitism throughout the world is proof positive that not teaching this ugly part of human history does not just allow anti-Semitism to remain an obscure embarrassing part of history but rather gives it new life to grow and spread anew.

I am really looking forward to spending time with like-minded educators from different grade levels and schools in an effort to grow professionally. I am also really looking forward to deplaning in Israel. I expect that first moment to be life-altering and I am hoping to feel at peace.

The School District of Palm Beach County