The summer of 1998 I had the opportunity to go with the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program to Poland and Israel. It was on this first trip to Poland that I first learned about Janusz Korczak. While in Warsaw, we went to the Jewish Historical Institute and I first heard of him there. When I visited Treblika for the first time, I also learned more and saw the stone marker there for him (and the children). Later, when we were studying at the Ghetto Fighters’ House in Israel, they had a poster of him on the wall of one of the classrooms and then later, in their book store, I bought a small book about him. The book is called Homage to Korczak: Excerpts from his writings, poems in his honor, children’s drawings. The book was published byt Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, Ghetto Fighters’ House – Yad Layeled and The Korczak Society of Israel.
After returning home from my trip I began to search about Korczak on the internet and was fascinated by this amazing man. I then purchased The King of Children and read it cover to cover in just a few days. I could not put it down. I vowed to myself that I would teach my students about this incredible human being who advocated for the rights of children and loved them unconditionally. I also bout his ghetto diary and a picture book about him. I used the picture book in class with my eight-grade students as well as pictures, poems etc… I introduce my students to him when I am teaching about the Warsaw ghetto, and then do a separate lesson on him when I teach about heroes of the Holocaust.
In 2005, I went on a second trip to study the Holocaust and spent 12 days in Poland with the Seattle based Holocaust center. Here too, I looked for more on him, took special notice of the numerous statues and monuments in his honor and did get to see the outside of the orphanage.
Janusz Korczak has become a role model to me as far as how to treat and teach my eight-grade students. That children have rights and should first and foremost be loved. He is a hero to me, personally.
There are a few people I really admire in history that if I could meet them, and talk to them, it would be awesome. On the top of my list is Janusz Korczak.
Julie can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.