Hudson Valley Area Teachers and Students Attend Annual Human Rights Institute

The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center hosted their 9th Annual Human Rights Institute for Middle School Student Leaders on November 15th, 16th and 17th at Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester in Rye, New York. Students and teachers from 37 public and private middle schools in the Hudson Valley attended.

HHREC staff and area educators facilitated a breakout session on the themes of What does the term “human rights” mean? , What does it mean to respect human dignity? and How do we incorporate human dignity and human rights while learning to be an upstander? Students were engaged in different activities to address these vital issues, and met within groups to develop activities to implement in their schools. Students from John Jay (Cross River) High School, Byram Hills High School, Manhattanville  College – Clark Scholars and Iona University helped to facilitate the breakout sessions. The event was organized by Jeanne Claire Cotnoir and Debbie Minchin, HHREC Coordinators of Student Programming.

The Institute began with a keynote presentation by Sheila Arnold, CEO and Lead Performer of History’s Alive! Ms. Arnold has also performed as a Regional Storyteller at Colonial Williamsburg, the Valley Forge Teacher Institute, and at conferences across the U.S.

This program was developed to further the mission of the HHREC by laying the foundation to encourage students to become “upstanders rather than bystanders.” Participating schools included: Albert Leonard (New Rochelle); Anne Dorner MS (Ossining); Ardsley MS; Barack Obama School of Justice (Yonkers); Benjamin Turner (Mount Vernon); Blind Brook MS; Briarcliff MS; Denzel Washington School of the Arts (Mount Vernon); Dobbs Ferry MS; Eastchester MS; Fieldstone MS (North Rockland); Fox Lane MS (Bedford); French American School; George Fischer MS (Carmel); German International School; Henry H. Wells (Brewster); Highlands MS (White Plains); Hommocks MS (Mamaroneck); Isaac E. Young MS (New Rochelle); Mahopac MS; Newburgh (Heritage MS, Meadow Hill Gem, South MS and Temple Academy); North Salem MS; Paideia School 15 (Yonkers); Pierre Van Cortlandt MS (Croton—on-Hudson); Pleasantville MS; Port Chester MS; Robert Bell MS (Chappaqua); Rye Neck MS; Scarsdale MS; Seven Bridges MS (Chappaqua); Sleepy Hollow MS; Somers MS; St. Joseph’s School (Bronxville); and Westlake MS (Mt. Pleasant).

“We are very pleased to continue offering this important program to Hudson Valley area middle schools.” said Steve Goldberg, HHREC Director of Education. “Seventy-five years ago, the United Nations created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that enshrined the rights and freedoms of all human beings.  Our goal is to work with our education partners and their students to embrace these ideals as they become global citizens in our ever-changing world.”

For more information visit HHREC at or contact Steve Goldberg at