By Sarah Gregory, Sun Staff Writer
South Greene High School history teacher Noelle Smith has a vivid childhood memory of her first-ever encounter with a Holocaust survivor.
The early experience touched her life in a profound way, and now, she emphasizes Holocaust education in her classroom.
Smith fuses larger lessons about humanity that can be taken from study of the Holocaust with her daily instruction.
“The overall theme,” she says, “is to advocate tolerance and examine the commonalities within humanity.”
Hers is a focus on deeper understanding that students can apply to life, and it’s bringing awards back to SGHS.
Smith was recently selected for the Tennessee Holocaust Commission’s Belz-Lipman Holocaust Educator Award.
The Belz-Lipman award is a prestigious honor that comes with $1,500 in funds to enhance teachers’ ability to meaningfully engage students in Holocaust studies.
Smith also won the state’s National History Day Teacher of the Year award for the senior division during state competitions on April 20.
Smith coaches the SGHS National History Day team.
She traveled with them to Nashville for the state competition.
The state-level win means Smith could be selected from history teachers all over the country for the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award.
That award will be given during the National History Day competition, to be held in Maryland on June 13.
The national winner will receive grant funds of $10,000.
DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
Smith was honored with the Belz-Lipman Award during the Tennessee Holocaust Commission’s Day of Remembrance Ceremony, held April 8.
The ceremony, entitled “Never Again: Heeding The Warning Signs,” was held in the Senate Lounge in the Tennessee Capitol building in Nashville.
Several rabbis, Holocaust survivors and liberators, state congressional representatives, students, and teachers received honors.
The event featured recitals of El Malei Rachamim and Mourners’ Kaddish, special Jewish funeral prayers.
Holocaust survivors and liberators living in Tennessee lit candles to honor the lives lost in the devastation.
Vox Grata, a Nashville women’s choir, sang a piece from composer Linda Tutas Haugen’s“Anne Frank: A Living Voice.”
Haugen’s composition sets to music text from the well-known Holocaust-era book, The Diary of Anne Frank.
After the ceremony, a reception was held for the honorees.