Bloomington teacher selected to Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A Twin Cities teacher is now one of 17 people selected to be a part of the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission.

Greg Kocourek, a 7th-grade social studies/history teacher, found out this week that he was chosen by Governor J.B. Pritzker and is among 16 others to serve and work on the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission.

The commission is a group that started in the 1990s and is made up of mostly educators to provide guidance on teaching about the Holocaust and human genocide.

Kocourek said he was honored when he found out and said this is a subject he is passionate about teaching and learning about.

“It’s difficult history and any study of difficult history is really essential. It unveils information about human behavior, what people do when difficult situations,” Kocourek said. “Studying the Holocaust can give us insight into democracies and the struggles they can have.”

Kocourek said he’s worked with the Holocaust Museum and Memorial in Washington, as well as in New York and here in Illinois. He said learning about it teaches us the mistakes of others in the past.

“What can we learn from that and how can we move forward with open eyes, understanding that these things have happened and what can we do to make sure that they don’t happen again,” Kocourek said. “Which would include looking at populations of people that are oppressed, underserved and often ignored.”

The commission was restarted by Governor Pritzker in 2020 after being out of use since early 2015.

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