2015 Class of Teacher Fellows, Greg Birner, Laura Wilson, Kim Joslyn, Wendy Dyment, Melissa Wadsworth-Miller with Education Director Joe Karb

The Robert H. Jackson Center of Jamestown, New York is pleased to announce that it has awarded the prestigious Robert H. Jackson Center Teacher Fellowship to five deserving area educators. Commencing their collaboration with the Center on July 20th were Gregory Birner and Laura Wilson from Westfield Academy and Central School, Wendy Dyment from Cassadaga Valley Central School, Kim Joslyn from Chautauqua Lake Central School and Melissa Wadsworth-Miller from Tonawanda Middle/High School in Erie County. This year’s Fellowship program was made possible through the support of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Law, Youth and Citizenship Program of the New York State Bar Association and the Holocaust Resource 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. To be accepted into the program, educators must demonstrate excellence in the classroom, and participation in community and professional organizations, as well as 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.

After participating in four days of training at the Center, the participants began designing projects that will be piloted in their respective schools and available on the Center’s website early next year.

Gregory Birner and Laura Wilson

Gregory Birner is an 18 year veteran social studies teacher at Westfield Academy and Central School. Gregory has taught Sociology, Psychology, U.S. Military History, Criminal Justice, Economics, Participation in Government, U.S. History and Government, “We The People” (an advanced government class) as well AP American Government and Politics. Gregory was a member of the Teaching American History Grant that introduced him to “We The People”, where his students have finished as high as 3rd in State Competition and were invited to and have competed at the national level. The Grant also introduced Gregory to the Robert H. Jackson Center, and the Law Youth Citizen organization that sent him on a weeklong study of Navajo culture and law in Arizona with a focus on individual rights of Native Americans.

Laura Wilson is an English teacher at Westfield Academy and Central School, an adjunct professor through the College Connections Program at Jamestown Community College, and the new teacher mentor. A graduate of SUNY Fredonia, Laura received her Master’s Degree in English Education. In 2014, Laura received the Educator of Excellence Award from the New York State English Council. Of her accomplishments, she is most proud of the over twenty boxes of supplies her students collected to send to the troops in Iraq and the $2,500 dollars a small group of advanced eighth graders raised to send to the organization Water for South Sudan after reading the book A Long Walk to Water.

Mr. Birner and Mrs. Wilson will work together on their Fellowship project to create two lesson plans utilizing the Center’s new documentary, Liberty Under Law: The Robert H. Jackson Story and materials from the Center’s archives. Their focus will center around the United States entry into WWII, examining Justice Jackson’s contributions to the Supreme Court, specifically in the decision Korematsu v. United States (1944), and his work as Chief Prosecutor during the IMT at Nuremberg. The lesson plans will incorporate new standards set in the New York State Common Core Social Studies Framework for grades 9-12.

Wendy Dyment and Melissa Wadsworth-Miller

Wendy M. Dyment is the senior member of the Cassadaga Valley Central School District’s social studies department. She has taught Global History to both 9th and 10th graders, provided AIS support services in Global and American History, and is fortunate to be able to teach history electives to juniors and seniors. She is developing an elective on Genocide for the 2016 – 2017 school year. Wendy earned a BA in History with a concentration in Classics from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. After graduating with honors, Wendy began her Master’s work at the University of Oregon. She returned to NY State to accept a teaching position at CVCS and completed her MS in Social Studies Education at Buffalo State College.

Melissa Wadsworth-Miller is a high school and middle school English teacher at the city of Tonawanda Middle/High School in Erie County, New York. For the past fifteen years, Melissa has incorporated the study of human rights and social justice into her curriculum. Her lessons combine literature and nonfiction to analyze the Holocaust and Darfur genocides, and discuss the roles average people can play in preventing atrocities like these from happening in the future.

Ms. Dyment and Ms. Wadworth-Miller are working together on their Fellowship project to create an inquiry-based lesson on Nuremberg and international justice. Lesson plans will allow students to investigate and analyze historical context on the Holocaust and international court systems that bind countries to adhere to human rights.

Kim Joslyn

Kim Joslyn is a pre-K-12th grade Library Media Specialist at Chautauqua Lake Central School. Kim received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Buffalo State College and her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Buffalo. She is passionate about using the library to promote research, provide resources, and assist teachers in their instruction.

Mrs. Josyln’s Fellowship project focuses on introducing Justice Jackson to the lower elementary grades through the library classroom. Her project will focus on Jackson’s relationship with his teacher and mentor Mary Willard. Students will be introduced to “little Bob”, as Ms. Willard affectionately called him, and his love of learning, reading and writing. Ms. Joslyn’s project will introduce Jackson to students at an early age, increasing their awareness on who Jackson was and providing a stepping stone for them as they will go on to learn about him again in middle school and high school.