$5,000 to be awarded to social justice educator

Humanities educators from secondary schools across the globe — from California to North Carolina, Ohio to South Africa — are competing to win $5,000 in a contest sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves, an organization dedicated to bringing lessons about the Holocaust and other genocides to classrooms everywhere. 

The Upstanders Contest celebrates educators, administrators and school staff who have taught students the importance of participating in a democratic society and to explore the impact and history of bigotry and injustice and foster civic engagement, tolerance and mutual understanding in their communities, according to the contest Web site. 

Oct. 9 to 22, community members nominated outstanding educators, administrators and staff, and included with their nomination a short description about why that person is an Upstander. Facing History narrowed the nominees to 20 semifinalists, including Californians Jose Navarro, principal at Social Justice Humanitas Academy in San Fernando; Deidre Powell, an eighth-grade homeroom teacher at St. John Chrysostom Catholic School in Inglewood; and Katherine Geers, a 10th-grade English teacher at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont.

“Mrs. Powell teaches every student that crosses her path to stand up for people getting hurt, because silence means we agree with those hurtful actions,” an alumnus of St. John Chrysostom wrote in nominating Powell.

The five semifinalists who receive the most votes will advance to the finals, and a winner will be chosen after the second voting around, which ends Nov. 16. Visit outreach.facinghistory.org to vote.