REB Award gives social studies teacher life-changing opportunity


Photo courtesy of: Henrico County Public Schools

Teacher Jackie Dondero (center) poses with a central office staff member and school board member Marcie Shea (right) as Dondero receives the REB Award in their classroom.

Rae Rectenwald, Editor-In-Chief

On Nov. 2, history and social studies teacher Jackie Dondero was awarded the REB Award for Teaching Excellence. This prestigious award was granted to only four teachers in the Richmond area, only two of whom teach in Henrico County. The cash award allows teachers to pursue a rare experience related to deepening the understanding of their content. 

   “It was such a huge honor to be awarded the REB in Teaching Excellence. I am very grateful to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Dondero said. 

   The REB award will allow Dondero the chance to retrace their ancestors’ escape from and experience in Nazi-occupied areas by traveling from site to site throughout Europe. 

   “My Oma was Jewish and born in Cologne, Germany. After Hitler came into power in Germany, some German Jews had the financial means and the ability to flee. My Oma, her mom, and her stepdad escaped by 1938. They went to London to secure travel documents, then to  Amsterdam and eventually Rotterdam, where they sailed to the United States,” Dondero said. 

   Dondero plans to visit Cologne to visit their Oma’s first home address. From there, they will travel to Treblinka, Poland where Dondero’s great-great-grandmother, Fannie Neu, was sent to a concentration camp. Lastly, they will visit other landmarks such as Auschwitz, and the cities of Rotterdam and London.

   Over the summer, Dondero will create an “itemized budget as part of the award application.” They have a general idea of how the trip will lay out, however, a detailed itinerary has not been made yet. Dondero has big plans for this exploration and can’t wait for it to begin. They look forward to visiting their Oma’s house and collecting resources to provide future students with “a personalized look at the impact of the Holocaust.”