Teachers Learn Religious Literacy at Local Faith Centers (PHOTO)
When 37 Montgomery County Public School teachers return to their classrooms they will know much more about the religious beliefs and practices of people in our communities. They are taking part in a pilot program designed to promote religious literacy.
Walter Johnson High School teacher Christopher Murray organized the five-day program with Steven Adleberg, the Education Outreach Director for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
The seminars at Temple Beth Ami and other faith centers could help teachers guide their students toward a better understanding of the diverse religions and cultures that exist in the county, our nation and the world. Robert Frost Middle School teacher Sarah Shah says she has observed some 6th graders expressing misconceptions and ignorance about different religions. She enrolled in the program to learn how to encourage her students to become more compassionate and empathetic.
Walter Johnson High School teacher David Euler hopes to apply what he gained from the seminars when discussing difficult topics in his classes. He also says he wants to be as knowledgeable and respectful as possible when he interacts with students of different faiths and cultures.
For Adleberg, a former Fairfax County principal, the religious and cultural intolerance witnessed in America and other countries is a wake up call for us all. He says understanding each other and working together to solve problems is critical in a nation that values religious freedom.
Murray believes educating teachers on religious diversity will ultimately lead to more young people and their parents reaching out to people who practice Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and other religions. He and Adleberg are working together to expand the pilot program to include counselors, administrators and other Montgomery County school personnel. The next Religious Literacy for Educators course will be offered in the fall.