An unnamed teacher from Watkins Elementary School in the Washington DC area was placed on leave Friday for instructing her third grade library class to reenact scenes from the Holocaust. She had them simulate digging mass graves and shooting their victims, according to an email. She also assigned the students specific rules. One student, who is Jewish, played Adolf Hitler. The teacher instructed that student to pretend to commit suicide, as Hitler did.
Principal Berkowitz sent an email to parents acknowledging the teacher’s unapproved assignment.
“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war or murder. “
During the re-enactment, the teacher allegedly made anti-semitic comments. When the students asked her why the Germans did this to Jewish people, she replied, “because the Jews ruined Christmas. “ After the re-enactment, the teacher instructed her students not to tell anyone.
The entire class has now met with the schools mental health response team, Berkowitz said in his email. The school district has “launched an investigation, and students are being supported by DCPS’ Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team. “