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About Us

Mission Statement

The Defiant Requiem Foundation is dedicated to preserving the memory of the prisoners in Terezín during World War II, who, despite monumental suffering, disease, and the constant presence of death, found hope and inspiration in the arts and humanities.

The Foundation will achieve its mission by:

  • Presenting live performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín and Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer.
  • Distributing the award-winning documentary film Defiant Requiem to the broadest possible audience.
  • Perpetuating The Rafael Schächter Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Terezín in both the Czech Republic and the United States.
  • Nurturing opportunities for Holocaust education centered on Terezín, including the Defiant Requiem film curriculum guide and the University Residency Project.
  • Creating new initiatives and artistic programs to honor the creativity and courage of the Terezín prisoners and expand overall awareness of Terezín.

For more about the history, staff, and Board of Directors, please visit the Foundation’s About Us page.

The Curriculum Modules

The curriculum modules on this website were developed by staff and educational consultants to The Defiant Requiem Foundation and peer-reviewed by a curriculum review panel composed of private, public, and parochial teachers from the DC/MD area. More information about the curriculum review panel can be found below.

Curriculum Review Panel

Diana Christadore works for Baltimore County Public Schools in the office of Secondary English Language Arts. She collaborates with teachers and school leadership to support curriculum, instruction and student achievement.  Before that, she worked as a high school English teacher for Anne Arundel County Schools at Annapolis High School. She’s written curriculum for both school districts and loves digging into unit design and lesson planning. Diana was instrumental in developing the modules and writing the lesson plans for the Defiant Requiem curriculum

Ross Cohen teaches 10th Grade English at Columbia Heights Educational Campus, a public charter school in the District of Columbia.  As an undergraduate, he studied with Elie Wiesel and wrote his thesis on Night and the limitations of language and metaphor in post-Holocaust literature.

Omari James has taught for five years at Walt Whitman High School following two years at Quince Orchard High School, both in Montgomery County Public Schools.  Before that, he graduated as valedictorian from the University of Maryland MCERT program, and has been honored as a keynote speaker at the 2014 TELREC Conference and a regular panelist at USDE meetings and events.  In 2019, James will be the keynote speaker for the Maryland Youth Educators conference.

Topher Kandik is the 2016 Teacher of the Year from the District of Columbia and received the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ Mayor’s Arts Award in 2013. He is a contributor to the book Arts Integration in Education: Teachers and Teaching Artists as Agents of Change (Intellect, May 2016). Topher is an Upper School English teacher at E. L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, DC. He holds an M.Ed. from George Washington University and is dual certified in English and Special Education. He earned National Board Certification in 2011. He is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY).

Chris Maloney teaches Social Studies and Leadership at Saint John’s College High School in Washington, D.C.  He previously taught social studies and served as department chair at Gonzaga College High School. He was the Founding Principal at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, a private, Roman Catholic high school and work study program in Takoma Park, Maryland, serving low-income students in the D.C. area. Before becoming a teacher and education administrator, Chris was a writer at C-SPAN television network and served as a press aide in the U.S. House Press Gallery in the U.S. Capitol.

Chris Merrill has been teaching for 23 years, first in Columbia, SC for three years and then in Montgomery County Public Schools. He has a BA in History from the College of Wooster and an Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of South Carolina.  He also completed coursework at Johns Hopkins for his administrative certification.  He served as an assistant principal for 9 years (at Walter Johnson for eight years and at Westland Middle School for one) before returning to the classroom six years ago. He currently teaches US history to 9th graders and AP World to 11th graders at Walter Johnson High School.

Jamal Middlebrooks has been teaching for 17 years, mostly in independent schools from upstate New York to Tacoma, Washington except for a few years in a public school in Arizona. He has more than 13 years’ experience teaching Western Civilization/European History and has served in a leadership role for the AP European History exam. He has attended workshops and conferences at the USHMM including the Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Conference and Teaching about the Holocaust: From Antisemitism to American Responses.

Dan Rosenthal is in his fourth year teaching in the Department of Jewish History at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. His courses cover the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present day and serve as a specialized area of focus to both supplement and buttress the general history curriculum. In addition to these survey courses, he teaches electives on contemporary Israeli society, the Hebrew Bible, and Jewish intellectual history. He is a historian of Eastern European Jewry and continues to research and write on confrontations between Jewish religious law, economics, and government bureaucracy in twentieth century Poland.

Andrew Seidman has been a Psychology and English teacher for thirteen years and currently teaches 10th and 12th grades at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. He holds a BA in English and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, an MA in English and American Literature from Pennsylvania State University, and a Master of Professional Studies in Clinical Psychological Science from the University of Maryland. He is faculty proctor for St. Andrew’s Creative Writing magazine, Creaturae, and a former Faculty Fellow for the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, an organization dedicated to creating and innovating in the field of mind, brain, and education science research to allow teachers to maximize their effectiveness and students to achieve their highest potential.

Devon Williams earned her BA from Wake Forest University and has been teaching for 15 years, first at St. Christopher’s in Richmond, VA; then at Highland School in Warrenton, VA, and now at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. She teaches Modern World History to 9th graders, US history to 11th graders, and a seminar on American History through Film to 12 graders. She is the Head Coach of Swimming for NCS and a 2018 recipient of the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator Award.