On Saturday September 7, the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) sponsored a seminar for teachers practicing in Armenian day and Saturday schools in the eastern region. The program was held at the Armenian Prelacy headquarters in New York City. Attendees from Armenian schools from New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Providence, and Philadelphia, gathered on Saturday morning for breakfast and opening remarks from His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan who spoke about his experience as a teacher and the important role of the educator. He said that the task of educating the next generation is not just a cultural issue, but a national one.
Serving as the day’s master of ceremonies, ANEC member Dr. Asbed Vassilian told participants that “this seminar is dedicated to you.” He went on to remark each year ANEC looks for ways to change and improve. He then gave a brief overview of the program and introduced the first speaker, ANEC director Dr. Vartan Matiossian. His presentation, titled “‘Secrets’ of the Armenian Language,” aimed to empower teachers with an in depth knowledge of the roots of the Armenian language and dispelling common myths that they can pass along to their students. Matiossian spoke about the Armenian language as part of the Indo-European tree, the connection between Classical and Modern Armenian, Eastern and Western Armenian, and the spelling debate.
Following this presentation, Maroush Gulumian shared her vast knowledge on the topic of “Teachers’ Resources: Where to Find and How to Use Them.” Her discussion spanned from textbooks for various ages and abilities, instructional reading materials, and books teaching mathematics in Armenian to maps, puzzles, and videos and DVDs. For each item presented, Gulumian commented on where it was produced, where it could be purchased, and how it could be used. At the conclusion, participants were able to browse and purchase the materials from the Prelacy Bookstore.
Attendees then enjoyed a lunch provided by ANEC and mingled, discussing their thoughts on the topics presented. After lunch, ANEC chairman Haroutune Misserlian presented the third portion titled “Armenian History through Maps.” He talked about the notion of teaching through association and Armenian school teachers focusing on instructing students on the depth of knowledge that they might not get at home or public school.
The final presentation by Dr. Matiossian, entitled “Basic Knowledge on the Armenian Genocide,” provided an overarching framework on effectively teaching students about the Armenian Genocide. He noted that it is important to impart upon students that although governments may change, the responsibility they bear regarding the past carries forward. He also touched upon the distinction between the historical name (Meds Yeghern) and the legal name (Armenian Genocide).
In his closing remarks, Vassilian spoke about the support ANEC promises to provide teachers, students, and administrators but remarked that the power for change was in the hands of each school. ANEC cannot solve each school’s problem, he said, but can support each as they find solutions. Vassilian concluded that ANEC will work towards finding ways for teachers to connect and work together and support each other.
Over coffee and desert, ANEC members led an open discussion looking for comments from participants about the topics presented or other concerns and comments they preferred to share. In particular a lively conversation took place around preparing the next generation of Armenian school teachers and the continued growth of the student population.
ANEC is a joint body formed through the partnership of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Relief Society. For more information, visit www.armenianprelacy.org.