Huntington, Ind.—Over the last several years Katherine Rohrer, assistant professor of education at Huntington College, has dedicated much of her energy to understanding Holocaust survivors’ stories and making them known to anyone who will listen. In recognition of her expertise and desire for further study, she has been awarded a fellowship to attend the Institute on Holocaust Jewish Civilization to be held at Northwestern University June 17-29, 2001.
Dr. Cindy Steury, Assistant to the Dean for Faculty Development at Huntington says, “The Holocaust is an area of expertise and specialization for Katherine. We are so proud that she has been selected for this fellowship.” This fourth annual institute is designed primarily for professors currently teaching or preparing to teach a course on the Holocaust from any disciplinary perspective. Sponsored by the Holocaust Educational Foundation, the institute is helping to preserve the reality of the Holocaust for future generations through educational programs. Dr. Rohrer advocates this mission and has been instrumental in the development of educational materials that teach people about the Holocaust.
She relates the moment when she first became aware of the horrors of the Holocaust, “My college French professor had just shown the film Night and Fog. I was shocked! Here I was a history major with a French minor, yet I had never heard these things.” The experience launched Rohrer on a quest to learn more about this horror of history. "I think my French teacher was a survivor," says Dr. Rohrer, "though she never said so. But as I look back, she fits the survivor profile."
After college, Rohrer began her career as a high school teacher of history and French. She attended a conference sponsored by the Jewish Humanities Council on "holocaust education." It was there that she first met survivors willing to talk about their experiences. "I was so amazed at their stories," Dr. Rohrer says. "I decided then and there that these stories needed to be told."
To facilitate this, Dr. Rohrer applied for and received a grant to promote Holocaust awareness at her high school. This eventually led to development of a holocaust curriculum. Students were surprisingly interested; 95 signed up and the intended one section class had to be split into three. She also developed a Holocaust slide show with written commentary that she presented throughout the state of Nevada. She is currently working on a curriculum supplement entitled “Holocaust Dilemmas.”
Rohrer currently serves as assistant professor of education at Huntington College. She recently completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Baylor University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and an M.Ed. from the University of Nevada.
Dr Rohrer, a Christian, believes the Holocaust “helps people search themselves. It is not just about death, but also about forgiveness, rebirth and perseverance.”
She remembers a life-changing moment in 1995 while in Poland with 35 other American educators: “The amazing thing about all this is that I developed an incredible understanding of forgiveness as I listened to survivors. I had been dealing with a lot of anger and unforgiveness in my own life—towards the church, my past, everything. I clearly remember the day I decided to give it all up. I literally became a whole new person. There is no doubt in my mind that God used Holocaust survivors to draw me to him.”
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