EAST HANOVER, NJ- Local Hanover and Whippany Park Social Studies teacher, Brady Mahar, will spend Monday, June 20th attending the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education luncheon. There he will be awarded the Margit Feldman Teaching Award for his work with the Genocide Studies course offered as an elective in the high schools. The award is presented to an educator who has demonstrated outstanding efforts in teaching the Holocaust and genocide in their classroom and facing the challenges of prejudice, bigotry, and bullying.
The Genocide Studies program, which recently won the Aaron A. Flanzbaum Democratic Heritage Award for its Genocide Gallery Walk earlier this month, can add another feather to its cap for its innovative teacher. “It is an honor to see the program be recognized with various awards.” Brady said proudly, “It is a direct reflection of the time, effort, and enthusiasm that the students put into the course. The course has allowed students with a wide variety of strengths and talents to utilize them in a collaborative classroom environment.”
The program began over five years ago when Superintendent Carol Grossi called for the expansion of course offerings and Brady, alongside now Whippany Park principle Chris Kelly, created the curriculum. Superintendent Grossi supported the idea from the start allowing the duo to run with it and create one of the breakout programs in the state.
Since then, the program has really taken off and is now attended by over 100 students at each school every year. “The student body at both Hanover Park and Whippany Park have fully embraced the Genocide Studies elective and it is an extremely popular course.” Brady went on to say. “We believed the course could have an enormous impact on the school community. With the combination of intriguing discussion and activities like the service learning Gallery Walk, it has had the impact we hoped for.”
This impact on the scholastic community is exactly the kind of influence the Margit Feldman Award honors. Margit Feldman is a Holocaust survivor born in Hungary in the summer of 1929. At just 15 years old she and her family were shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland where she lost her parents.
Margit was liberated by British troops in 1945 while at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. A girl of 16, sick and alone, she eventually found out she had family in America and came to the country in August of 1947. Margit has dedicated over 30 years of her adult life to teaching children about the Holocaust and these noble actions gave birth to this teaching award.
Brady does not intend to rest on his laurels and is always looking for new and creative ways to teach the new generations the lessons of the past. “We hope to continue to push the program to new heights and expectations.” Brady stated. “Every year we are pushing the limits to offer students a creative outlet for their studies and truly engage with the material they are learning. It is a challenge that makes my job fun.”
The Hanover Park Board of Education has also been thrilled with the accolades flowing in for the program. Board of Education President James Herbert took the opportunity at the most recent meeting to say, “Brady Mahar got another award. I say another, because he has been amassing some lately for the Genocide class and we all know what the Genocide class has done for our schools. Brady is one of the catalysts of that.”
The Genocide Studies program has become one of the gems in the district’s education system and has been exciting the students and community for the last several years. Only time will tell the heights this program will soar to, but for now it is refreshing to see the teachers and administrators that made this program possible awarded for their efforts.