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Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh names Educator of the Year

The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh is pleased to announce that James “Jim” Lucot Jr. has been named the 2020-2021 Holocaust Educator of the Year. J. Lucot
The Holocaust Educator of the Year award was established by an anonymous donor, in the interest of recognizing and encouraging excellence in Holocaust education in the tri-state area. This is the fifth year the award has been given. Usually, the winner of the award is announced in spring after a competitive application process, but this year was different.
“Coronavirus has changed everything about the landscape of teaching,” said Dr. Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, director of the Holocaust Center. “By giving this award in the fall, we ensure that Jim and his school are receiving these funds at a time where they have never been more crucial.”
Amid the additional pressures of COVID-19, the Claims Conference released the results of a nationwide study in September that revealed a lack of knowledge of key historical facts of the Holocaust among Millennials and Gen-Z. It also showed a rise in antisemitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial online and in communities. Educators like Lucot, says Dr. Bairnsfather, are on the front lines of combatting statistics like these.
Dr. Bairnsfather says that the decision to select Lucot was unanimous. She cited as key factors not only Lucot’s work in the classroom, but his ability to connect students to the Holocaust Center and encourage longer-term engagement with the subject matter.
“When an influx of high school students registers for a Holocaust Center event, it’s a phenomenon we’ve dubbed ‘The Jim Lucot Effect’,” said Bairnsfather. “He has been a leader among Holocaust educators for decades. We are impressed that he never stops learning, recently completing a Master’s degree in Holocaust Studies for which he traveled the country visiting Holocaust memorials.”
Bairnsfather said that the Center will resume the usual application and award process in Fall 2021.

About James "Jim" Lucot Jr.: James Lucot Jr. has taught A.P. U.S. Government and Honors U.S. History for the last twenty years at Seneca Valley High School. He also created a Holocaust Studies course at Butler County Community College. He began his professional career as a registered nurse but made the career change to pursue his lifelong passion of history.
When school is not in session James volunteers at his children’s school and multiple veteran’s programs including Honor Flight Pittsburgh. He has coordinated a History Roundtable bringing history makers, military veterans and Holocaust survivors to his community. He enjoys woodworking, photography and reading. His personal academic research about the Holocaust has taken him to Poland, Israel, Greece and across the United States on educational studies and research trips. He is active with the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh and Classrooms Without Borders.
James received a B.S.N. from Duquesne University, an M.S.A. from the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State Education Certificate from Robert Morris University. He recently finished a second Master’s in Holocaust and Genocidal Studies at Gratz College where he wrote his thesis on the differentiation of Holocaust memorialization in the United States.
His book “My Prison Had No Bars” was published in 2018. James lives in Wexford and has two children: Nick, a recent graduate of Purdue University, and Tara, a high school senior.

About the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh: The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh (http://hcofpgh.org) connects the horrors of the Holocaust and antisemitism with injustices of today. Through education, the Holocaust Center seeks to address these injustices and empower individuals to build a more civil and humane society. The Center is located at 826 Hazelwood Avenue, and offerings include exhibits in the Center’s public gallery, an extensive library and archive, engaging cultural events, internationally renowned speakers, and free and affordable resources for teachers. As stewards of Holocaust history, the Holocaust Center keeps the stories of Holocaust survivors, victims, and rescuers alive for future generations.