Ocean Township School District’s Allison Connolly has been appointed for her appointment by Gov. Murphy as a member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.
She is the Equity Coach for the Ocean Township school district. She moved to this position in 2021, after teaching history at the high school or almost 20 years. She is also the recording secretary for the Ocean Township Education Association, and works with Make It Better for Youth, providing professional development workshops relevant to inclusive curriculum and practices.
The fundamental mission of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education is to promote Holocaust education and genocide awareness throughout the state. The commission provides assistance to public and private schools (and other groups and organizations) to support curriculum development and lesson planning pertaining to these topics.
While Connolly was at OTHS, she partnered with Kean University to bring a dual enrollment course on the Holocaust and modern-day genocides to the high school. This course allowed students to earn college credits in their high school classroom, and exposed them to an important subject and the conversations around it.
Prior to doing this, she completed master’s courses in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Kean University. She remains involved with Kean’s Holocaust Resource Center through her work with their Diversity Council. Connolly currently sits on the executive committee of that organization. However, it really all began for her while volunteering at the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education (CHHANGE) at Brookdale Community College.
Her work with Holocaust and genocide studies prompted her to work with an educational equity mindset. She had the opportunity to study with world-renowned scholars through participation in the Belfer National Conference at the USHMM, the Master Teacher Institute at Rutgers University, and as both an Alfred Lerner Fellow with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous and a Rafael Schachter Ambassador with the Defiant Requiem Foundation. She believes that the broader lessons of social justice permeated every aspect of her teaching, and helped her to develop a better understanding of issues like equity in education – which she brought with her to this current position.
“If we want students to learn, they need to feel safe, valued, and seen, but what that entails will vary for each person, based on their personal lived experiences,” Connolly said. “There is a human behavior component to Holocaust education – one that is rooted in unchecked discrimination and bias, in other language and dehumanizing behavior.”
She said she has hoped for this appointment for a long time and she is very excited to start working with the commission.