Longtime South Jersey educator Doug Cervi will take the helm of the state’s Commission on Holocaust Education.
The Department of Education announced Monday that Cervi, a former Oakcrest High School teacher and adjunct faculty member at Stockton University, has replaced outgoing executive director Larry Glaser.
“I thank Larry Glaser for his dedication and contributions, and I welcome Doug Cervi as he continues the mission of the Commission on Holocaust Education,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet.
“Doug will help ensure that educators have the resources needed to teach students about the Holocaust and genocide, and he will serve as a resource for communities and organizations to promote awareness of the work of the Commission.”
Cervi, 68, of Mays Landing, received his master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
He is well known in the region for his focus on Holocaust and genocide education, an interest sparked after hearing some students tell him that the Holocaust did not happen.
“My goal is that every student in the state of New Jersey has an understanding that being a bystander only allows bullies on any level to advance their agenda,” Cervi said. “We all have a responsibility to make our communities safe and nurturing.”
The New Jersey Holocaust Education Commission was created in 1991 and expanded by a 1994 law mandating primary and secondary school curricula include instruction on the Holocaust and genocide.
The Commission works with the organizations and schools to design, promote and assist in bringing Holocaust and genocide education into the classroom.
In addition to teaching the history, Cervi tries to introduce students to the people of the Holocaust. He often arranges assemblies and class visits for survivors to share stories with students.
“We’re fortunate to still have survivors who are able to speak and willing to speak, which is no easy task,” Cervi said. “They’re willing to go through that because they feel an obligation to speak for those who cannot speak.”
Gail Rosenthal, director of the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University, said she looks forward to Cervi’s leadership as a role model for outstanding Holocaust and genocide education.
“I have watched him teach and change the lives of so many students at Oakcrest High School and then later joining the adjunct faculty at Stockton University,” said Rosenthal, who has known Cervi since the 1980s. “We all look forward to sharing in his energy and enthusiasm about not only teaching about the Holocaust and other genocides, but the lessons for today.”
Rosenthal said that she often hears students who come to the Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton say they know so much about the topic because of having Cervi as a teacher.
“He’s given this confidence to our students that not only do they know the historical facts about the Holocaust and other genocides, but they’re using the lessons that they learned to make a better c ommunity and world around us,” she said. “And that’s what it’s about.”
Cervi, who said he will continue to teach at Stockton, called the appointment “very humbling.”
He said he hopes to live up to his mentor and former Holocaust Education Commission director Paul Winkler, who died in 2016.
“New Jersey’s considered one of the premier states as far as the quality of Holocaust education. If I can do half of what Paul did, I’ll be very fortunate,” he said.
Cervi said that in his new role, he wants to establish a plan to ensure teachers in all grade levels have the resources needed for age-appropriate instruction.
He said he plans to redo the state website and update the commission’s curriculum guide to reflect current technology. He also wants to visit with the state’s 30 Holocaust centers, although those visits are on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.
He said he wants schools and teachers to know that even thoughin-person instruction cannot happen at the present moment, the Holocaust Education Commission is still open for business and available as a resource.
He also encouraged educators to apply for a trip, sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association, to Poland, Germany and the Netherlands to learn more about the Holocaust.
Cervi will host a virtual lesson called “The Liberators” at 1 p.m. on May 28, about the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Concentration and Death Camps by the Allied Forces at the end of World War II. More information is available at stockton.edu/manahawkin.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!