Two social studies teachers were named recipients of the Anti Defamation League’s Aaron Flanzbaum 21st Century Democratic Heritage Award.
The award was presented at the spring meeting of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, held on May 22nd in Atlantic City. Their feat will be acknowledged for a second time at tonight's meeting of the school’s Board of Education.
It wasn’t the first time that the duo, Mary Sok and Jamie Lott-Jones, both teachers of Watchung Hills’ ninth-grade World Cultures course, have captured the award. In fact, they’ve done it twice previously! They were recipients of the honor, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, last year, as well as in 2009.
This year, they were acknowledged for their educational film, “The Power of One,” part of the overall theme, “Not in Our Town.” The film catches a frank, personalized classroom discussion about bullying, an issue which was of concern even before the highly publicized Ravi/Clemente case (in which a Rutgers student was tried for the harassment of his gay roommate).
The film generates and leads to discussion about obligation, by-standing versus “up-standing,” individual choices, diversity, tolerance. At Watchung Hills, it led to students’ creating a mission statement and action plan for the school to foster diversity and tolerance.
The film, produced by a non-profit video production company, “The Working Group,” appeared on PBS on Martin Luther King Day. It can also be accessed on the school’s website.
A “dynamic duo,” Lott-James and Sok have been in the forefront of the anti – prejudice education that has been part of the entire Social Studies Department’s emphasis for the past several years. Lott-James, in fact, serves on a select nationwide panel developing the lesson and discussion from the “Not in Our School” website.
The award was presented to the teachers by Maude Dahme, a local Holocaust survivor who often speaks about the extreme results of prejudice and hate.