Melissa Wadsworth-Miller, a high school English teacher, spent the summer working on materials she will use this year with her sophomore classes that explore human rights issues. As a teaching fellow at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown she spent her summer vacation creating cross-curricular materials for social studies and English classrooms that explore the Nuremberg Trials and modern day international human rights law.
She learned in mid-July that she was awarded a dual fellowship from the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown and the Holocaust Center of Buffalo. The Robert H. Jackson Teacher Fellowship program was designed to develop a community of skilled educators who collaborate with the Center to create quality educational materials that meet common core standards and can be easily incorporated into classroom curriculum.
Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) served as a United States Supreme Court Justice from 1941 until 1954. During 1945-46, Justice Jackson was the architect of the international trial process and then the chief prosecutor of the surviving Nazi leaders at Nuremberg, Germany.
Mrs. Miller spent four days in July working in partnership with Wendy Dyment, a history teacher from Cassadaga Valley School District. They designed and compiled materials for student driven investigation that centers on Jackson’s work as the chief American prosecutor at Nuremburg trials and his legacy in the field of international law.
At the RHJ Center, she met with several attorneys who prosecuted Charles Taylor for the International Criminal Court. After leaving Jamestown she has continued to work on the fellowship project. On Aug. 31- Sept. 1, she attended the Ninth Annual International Law Dialogs at the Chautauqua Institution. While there she was able to meet the prosecutors from the Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunals and interview them for her project. She will present the project at a teachers' conference at the RHJ Center on Nov. 17.
As an eighth-grade English teacher for many years in the district, she used “The Diary of Anne Frank” with her eighth-graders to teach that genocide does not happen overnight and that the actions of just one person could change history.
This year she will teach tenth grade and some of her students will be the eighth-graders she had two years ago. “I want them to see how one person stood up for what he believed in and ran the Nuremburg trials and changed the world,” she said.
“I will also be relating the struggles and achievements of Robert H. Jackson's time in Nuremberg to those of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. My students will explore the theme of standing up for others instead of being a bystander when wrongdoing is occurring,” said Mrs. Miller, who has taught English in the district for 20 years.
During the RHJ Center’s annual dinner on July 22, Mrs. Miller spoke to other teaching fellows to describe her experience in the program. You can view the presentation on the You Tube video link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx5TX8gNgGs
. She appears at 11:06.
To be accepted into the RHJ Fellowship program, educators must demonstrate excellence in the classroom, participate in community and professional organizations, and have knowledge of the importance of Justice Jackson and his contributions to history. In turn, the participants will share his legacy with their students, colleagues, and communities.