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Distinguished Educator of the Year

With the annual Distinguished Educator Award, the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust recognizes outstanding educators in the fields of Holocaust education, human rights, civil rights, and character development whose work: 
  • Exemplifies a passion to eradicate prejudice and discrimination  
  • Demonstrates qualities of moral courage, a sense of moral responsibility, and a respect for diversity and humanity
  • Inspires others by being a role model, exhibiting physical and moral courage, personal integrity, and a sense of moral responsibility in his/her own behavior
  • Connects students to the history and lessons of the Holocaust and assists them in translating what they have learned to the choices that they will have to make
  • Ensures that future generations are prepared to become engaged citizens, make good choices and take responsibility for their own actions

Holocaust education, at its best, can be transformative, inspiring students to improve the world in which we live.

The Distinguished Educator award is presented to a full-time Georgia educator of grades 5, 6-8, or 9-12.  This educator will have demonstrated excellence and creativity in the development and presentation of lessons about the Holocaust, human rights, civil rights, or character development, and in doing so, motivated students to become active members of their communities, locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. 

Apply for 2015 Distinguished Educator Award



Distinguished Educator of 2014: Lesley McClendon of Shiloh Middle School


Left to right: Lesley McClendon, Georgia Department of Education Chief of Staff Dr. Mike Buck, and Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Executive Director Sally N. Levine.
Lesley McClendon has been named the 2014 Distinguished Educator of the Year. Ms. McClendon is a 7th grade Special Education and Language Arts educator at Shiloh Middle School in Gwinnett County where she has been teaching for four years. She was nominated by Assistant Principal Jay Barbour. She also teaches Language Arts for middle school students in the Reach for Excellence program, hosted by The Marist School. Read more...


The knowledge students gain from learning about the history of the Holocaust provides an invaluable context through which they may better understand the world around them. Students also develop a deeper understanding of responsibility, as it relates to both the individual and the community. When they realize the positive impact that even one determined individual can make, students feel more empowered to make good choices when faced with challenging situations and are inspired to actively contribute to the development of their communities.



Rabbi Reuven Travis of Yeshiva Atlanta

Meghan McNeeley of Clarke Middle School

Nadaria Wade, Sweetwater Middle School
2011 Caroline Snell, Memorial Middle School

Judy Lynn, Parkside Elementary
George Bevington, Sophia Academy

2009 Brendan Murphy, Marist School
Suzanne Carey, Rising Starr Middle School
Janie Cohen-Legge, Brockett Elementary
2008 Narci Drossos, Valdosta High School
Jackie Byrd, Sherood Christian Academy

Courtney M. Herbert, Perry High School
Jennifer L. Hall, J.E. Brown Middle School
Melinda Holder, Varnell Elementary School

2006 Judy Lynn, Parkside Elementary

Renee Kaplan
Janie Cohen-Legge, Brockett Elementary

2004 Dr. Betty Siegel