Announcing the 2024 Kron Sigal Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education

The VHEC is delighted to present the 2024 the Meyer and Gita Kron and Ruth Kron Sigal Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education to two outstanding educators in the province: Ben Lane (Collingwood School) and Mike Wolthuizen (Rutland Senior Secondary School). Both have demonstrated exceptional commitment to Holocaust education throughout their careers and have significantly impacted their students, colleagues and school communities.

The Kron Sigal Award was established in memory of Meyer and Gita Kron and their daughter Ruth Kron Sigal, Lithuanian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who re-established their lives in Vancouver. Through their lifelong involvement with education and community, the family touched the lives of thousands of students. The award in their name is presented annually to British Columbia teachers who have demonstrated excellence and commitment to teaching students about the Holocaust and its important lessons for humankind.

Ben Lane

During his tenure at Collingwood School in West Vancouver, Ben Lane led the development of a comprehensive Holocaust education program at the school. He created classroom resources and lesson plans and implemented school-wide events, commemorative programming and co-curricular opportunities for students, colleagues and the community to engage with the history of the Holocaust.

An alumnus of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, Ben’s approach to Holocaust education demonstrates creativity, depth of knowledge in subject matter and pedagogical quality. This is reflected in his bespoke lesson plans and robust teaching materials, which combine engaging history lessons with innovative project-based learning. These allow students to navigate complex issues of antisemitism, genocide and the legacies of the Holocaust with accuracy, sensitivity and a sense of responsibility for the subject matter.

Exposing students to primary sources of Holocaust history has been a priority for Ben, and he regularly incorporates VHEC programs into his curriculum through exhibition tours, workshops and survivor outreach speaker engagements. As well, Ben has facilitated a co-curricular student group to participate in the Dora Love Prize, a Holocaust education program sponsored by the University of Essex. For the past three years, this student group has engaged with scholars and survivors internationally and produced innovative projects annually to raise awareness of the Holocaust and human rights.

Mike Wolthuizen

Mike Wolthuizen teaches Genocide Studies 12 and Social Studies 10 at Rutland Senior Secondary School in Kelowna. Mike has been instrumental in advancing Holocaust education in the Central Okanagan School District, where he recently co-developed Holocaust 12: Beyond the Shoah, a social studies elective course to be introduced into classrooms in September 2024.

Colleagues, administrators and students attest to Mike’s thoughtful and innovative teaching approach, which creates a supportive environment for students to express their thoughts and critically analyze events in Holocaust history. He fosters meaningful discussions and ethical reflections on human choices. Through exposure to survivor testimony and primary sources, Mike cultivates in his students an appreciation for the stories of the individual. One student shared:

“Because of his teaching, one of my key takeaways from the course was the importance of the stories of individuals that were impacted by the Holocaust and other genocides, rather than just statistics. When learning from him, it became very evident that he cares so much about each individual and their rights, and that their stories hold an immense amount of power and importance when discussing the Holocaust.”

Also an alumnus of Yad Vashem’s International School, Mike has attended dozens of workshops and conferences, locally and internationally, to enhance his knowledge of Holocaust study. He has shared this knowledge and expertise beyond his own community, leading professional development programs and teaching in multiple school districts as a guest lecturer on Holocaust history.

The VHEC is proud to recognize the important contributions of these two exemplary educators in the field of Holocaust education.