Educator Mary Ann Fajardo receives the 2021 HREC Educator Award for Holodomor Lesson Plan Development

2021 HREC Educator Award for Holodomor Lesson Plan Development

TORONTO, Canada | October 1, 2021

Engaging students in meaningful discovery and learning while helping them develop the critical thinking skills that are the foundation of learning is a hallmark of teaching excellence. The HREC Educator Award for Holodomor Lesson Plan Development is presented annually by HREC Education of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) to recognize outstanding educators in the field of Holodomor teaching. The award fosters excellence in the development of innovative, creative, and interactive lessons for grades K-12 that engage students in developing their critical thinking skills while discovering and exploring the topic of the genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933. HREC Education announced the winner of the 2021 HREC Educator Award selected by an international panel of education adjudicators.

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Educator Mary Ann Fajardo of Whittier, CA received the 2021 HREC Educator Award for Holodomor Lesson Plan Development.

This year, the judges awarded educator Mary Ann Fajardo (Whittier, California, USA) the 2021 HREC Educator Award for Holodomor Lesson Plan Development for her unique lesson plan entitled, “The Holodomor and Its Children,” at the senior social studies high school grade level. In addition, two educators, Christopher Murray (Rockville, Maryland) and Michael Anthony (Toronto, Ontario), were recognized with Honourable Mentions. Applications were submitted from across Canada and the USA. The winning lesson plan is posted to the HREC Education website and available for download by interested educators.

Mary Ann Fajardo has been teaching World History, US History and Chicano Studies since 2013 at Frontier High School in the Whittier Union High School District located in Los Angeles County, California, USA. Fajardo was one of six Los Angeles area educators to participate in a Checkpoint Charlie Foundation and Museum of Tolerance jointly organized professional development education program in Berlin, Germany in 2019 visiting the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Jewish Museum.

Mary Ann Fajardo’s winning lesson plan for Grades 10-12, entitled “The Holodomor and its Children,” asks the central question: How did the Holodomor affect the children? It takes a unique approach to developing a student’s deeper connection to human rights violations and their own global citizenship. In her lesson, students participate in cooperative learning, they select and analyze resources, and write an essay as one of the practical applications. The culminating activity is to create a handmade graphic novel that can be shared with others. By researching witness testimonies of child survivors and their children about the Holodomor, students are better able to develop empathy for the victims and learn to speak out against abuse. Fajardo’s lesson plan, as an examination of human rights abuse in its extreme form of genocide, may be incorporated into classes in language arts, music, and visual arts in addition to history, civics, and other social studies curricula.

About her winning lesson plan, Fajardo stated, “I try to teach my students to think about how their daily behaviour affects other people. That’s one of the biggest themes I try to get them to understand. And, if they are able to relate to the materials, they will understand it. If they are reading about kids their own age they will think about our own society and behaviour and how genocide could happen anywhere. History is often taught as something in the past, or ‘over there’, but I want them to think about their own actions and how we treat other people.” Mary Ann intends to use her award to buy history books and graphic novels about genocide, and class materials like watercolours and good markers which she can use for class.

“This year we were pleased to see that we are reaching a wider audience of teachers,” stated Valentina Kuryliw, HREC Director of Education, who created the award. “And it is encouraging to see the understanding and creativity applied to dealing with human rights abuses being developed in the lesson plans of educators teaching the Holodomor today.”

The Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) acknowledges with gratitude the invaluable financial assistance that the Temerty Foundation has given to it and its HREC Educators. HREC is a project of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta.

The Ukrainian Weekly, 5 November 2021:

Ukrainian Language Education Centre (ULEC) Newsletter, , CIUS, University of Alberta, November 2021 (Vol. 3, Issue 2), page 6: 

Whittier Union Recognizes Frontier High School History Educator as 2022-23 Teacher of the Year

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