Congratulations to Shira Friedman-Parks, 7th grader at Akiba-Schechter, on advancing to the National Level of the History Fair. Shira’s project, “It’s Not Easy Being Clean,” was a website on the life and legacy of Josephine Cochran, inventor of the dishwasher.Shira was accompanied in Springfield, at the State Expo, by 5 of her peers, who also made it to the state level:• Sarah Campbell, paper: Bruno Bettelheim, Refrigerator Mother Theory
• Isabel Kucher, exhibit: Jane Addams: Legacy of Legal Reforms
• Bina Wilens, paper: Robert Mendelsohn, Medical Heretic
• Zoe Weiner, website: Natasha Goldowski Renner, Woman of the Manhattan Project
• Sarah Winitzer, paper: Ida B. Wells and her Anti-Lynching CampaignCongratulations also to the students’ 7th/8th grade Humanities teachers, Mindy Schiller and Neil Landers, who recently received a grant for curriculum development from the National Endowment for the Humanities.Schiller and Landers were both accepted into a 4-week summer institute sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). While NEH Summer Institutes are held across the globe, this specific seminar, “Rethinking the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era: Capitalism, Democracy, and Progressivisms, 1877 to 1920,” will be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago during the month of July. Its topic is directly relevant to a critical part of the Year II Humanities curriculum. As participants, Mindy and Neil will each receive $3,300 stipends. Each NEH seminar accepts roughly 10 participants. Because the space is so limited and the demand so high, it is extremely rare for more than one educator to be accepted from the same institution. Mindy and Neil were also accepted at two other NEH seminars—on the role of the news media in the American Revolution and the Reconstruction Era, respectively.Award-winning historian Robert Johnston (University of Illinois at Chicago) will guide the institute’s academic content, with the help of renowned experts in history, art, and architecture. Seasoned high school veterans will focus on pedagogy and integration of materials into the classroom. The NEH approach to teaching history—that is, placing themes at the center, starting with an “inquiry,” and using multiple disciplines to explore that inquiry—parallels the design of Akiba-Schechter’s Humanities course, where every unit begins by establishing the themes students will grapple with, forming “essential questions” to help them with this process, and then immersing students in as much primary-source material as possible.Mindy and Neil are very excited to be able to participate in such an opportunity, and to be able to bring such excellent material back to the Akiba-Schechter community.