St. Mary’s teacher wins statewide award


A Johnson City teacher recently received statewide recognition for her efforts in bringing Holocaust education into both her classroom and the entire Northeast Tennessee region. 

Kim Kenneson, a middle-school teacher at St. Mary’s School, was named a Belz-Lipman Holocaust Educator of Excellence, one of three across the state, by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. As such, Kenneson was recognized at the statewide Holocaust Remembrance event at the Tennessee General Assembly and received monies to further Holocaust education in this region.

Kenneson, an organizer of the Northeast Tennessee Holocaust Education Council, serves as a teaching fellow for the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and a teaching fellow for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She and other Holocaust educators organized a region-wide virtual event in April in which area high school students joined with the Milligan University choir and orchestra to remember the Holocaust. The event was shown at high schools across Northeast Tennessee.

“Lessons from the Holocaust create a moral compass for our students,” said Kenneson. “By providing an in-depth look at the forces that created this atrocity, we can teach students how to prevent this from ever happening again.”

At St. Mary’s School, Kenneson teaches a unit on the Holocaust that embeds both the historical context and literature from Holocaust victims. She has traveled to such Holocaust sites as Auschwitz and the Jewish quarters of Krakow, Poland, to further her education.

Over the past several years, she has attended several conferences nationwide on the Holocaust and named as part of a cohort of teachers for the Museum Teacher Fellow program at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 2019, she organized the Northeast Tennessee Holocaust Education Council along with other area teachers, professors, and members of the B’nai Sholom congregation. They have assembled teaching materials for area schools that will be augmented with the proceeds from this award and distributed upon request by schools.

The Belz-Lipman Holocaust Educator of Excellence award is given annually by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission after a statewide competition in which teachers apply or are recommended by their students and others. The educators are recognized by the Tennessee General Assembly at its annual Holocaust Remembrance Event. A former student of Kenneson’s wrote her recommendation.


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