Seven Educators Celebrated at Armenian Genocide Education Awards Luncheon

April 2, 2019

BURBANK – Hundreds gathered for the third annual Armenian Genocide Education Awards Luncheon at the De Luxe Banquet Hall in Burbank on March 23 to honor and celebrate seven remarkable educators for their commitment and dedication to teaching the Armenian Genocide. The luncheon, organized by the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s Education Committee, hosted close to 250 guests including elected officials, superintendents, dignitaries, educators from all across the state, the outstanding honorees with their friends and family, and the 2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning as the keynote speaker.

This event celebrates educators who have creatively taught the subject of the Armenian Genocide within their school communities, across different courses such as social science, English language, arts, music, art, theater, and film. This year for the first time, two university-level educators were also honored.

“The ANCA-WR Board of Directors is so proud of our amazing Education Committee, which organized its third annual Armenian Genocide Education Awards Luncheon this year. This has become one of our signature annual events and is so important toward promoting Armenian Genocide education in public schools, recognizing and thanking teachers who take the time to teach about the lessons to be learned from this dark chapter in history and encouraging others to do the same,” said ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq.

This year’s honorees were:

Rubina Peroomian, Ph.D., UCLA
Armenian Genocide Education Legacy Award

Jack Fong, Ph.D., California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Armenian Genocide Higher Education Award

Beth Hudson, Austin Independent School District
Armenian Genocide Education Award

Jose Lara, Dale Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
Armenian Genocide Education Award

Levon Marashlian, Ph.D., Glendale Community College
Armenian Genocide Higher Education Award

Naira Panasyan, Northridge Academy High School, LAUSD
Zaruhy “Sara” Chitjian Armenian Genocide Education Award

Vahe Tcharkhoutian, Eleanor J. Toll Middle School, GUSD
Zaruhy “Sara” Chitjian Armenian Genocide Education Award

2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning captivated the attendees with her moving remarks as she highlighted her special moments in Armenia as a Peace Corps volunteer — where she taught English at a school in Alaverdi — and expressed her support for genocide education.

“I’m not here because of what I did in Armenia. I’m here because of what I’ve learned and how I’ve taken those lessons with me throughout my 20 years career in education, to my classroom and my community,” said Manning. “I’m not Armenian, but I definitely feel like Armenia is in my roots.” Manning then continued to explain her experiences in Armenia from getting her first haircut, to riding the bus to work, and most importantly her host family. “My host family welcomed me with open arms, gave me grace in adapting to life in Armenia, took my hand and helped me out in my new environment,” added Manning. “I carry their example with me in my work as an educator every day a new student walks into my classroom.”

Manning concluded by expressing her gratitude to Armenia and highlighting the significant progress made by the Armenian people, from turning pain into action and becoming strong advocates at the forefront of genocide prevention globally.

Watch her full remarks here:

“The third annual Armenian Genocide Education Awards Luncheon was truly a success. This year, a new recognition for professors from colleges and universities who teach a unit on the Armenian Genocide was added and it was a rewarding decision. The most moving presentation was that of National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning, the Peace Corps volunteer who had served in Alaverdi, Armenia, for two years and is now the national spokesperson for all public education in the United States. Her love for Armenia and her praise for all things Armenian brought the audience to a lengthy standing ovation,” said ANCA-WR Education Committee Chair Alice Petrossian.

All the honorees expressed their appreciation for the award and pledged their continued support to advance genocide education in their respective schools. Dr. Rubina Peroomian, recipient of the Armenian Genocide Education Legacy Award for her decades-long work in advancing Armenian Genocide education and shared the story of how she became involved in this line of work. Dr. Peroomian also added that her work was simply fulfilling her familial obligation to the ANCA.

Thanking his student Kareen Shatikian for the nomination, Dr. Jack Fong, one of the first higher education honorees, presented his plans to further teach the Armenian Genocide to all his college students. “In my role as a professor, I will make sure the Armenian epic is made physical in my relative courses that examine geopolitics, genocide, and issues related to human rights,” stated Dr. Fong, adding that it’s the least he can do to honor the Armenian people.
Full remarks by the honorees will be available in the coming weeks via the ANCA Western Region Facebook page.

The program also included a special presentation by researcher and photographer Matthew Karanian about his new book “The Armenian Highland: Western Armenia and The First Armenian Republic of 1918.” In his book, Karanian celebrates the history of this First Armenian Republic and shows, through stunning photography, the hidden Armenia that he has discovered during his research in Ani, Kars, and Western Armenia—all lands that are today outside the borders of the Republic of Armenia. During his presentation, Karanian presented various photos from his book of his travels and emphasized the genocidal policies that are still pursued by Turkey today.

Members of the Armenian Heritage Curriculum Development Committee — a group of dedicated individuals working day in and day out to put together a comprehensive curriculum focused on Armenian culture and history — were also recognized during the Awards Luncheon. Members of this committee include Amy Bazikian, Anna Khachatryan, Anna Yeghiantz, Arpineh Kourounian, Mary Mekikian, Laura Gaboudian, Lucy Martirosyan, Sarine Boyadjian, Psy. D, LMFT, Sandra Edith Garcia, and Sedda Antakelian.

“The best part about the Armenian Genocide Education Awards luncheon, for me, is the uplifting energy that fills the hall. It is such a profound experience when you are filled in a room with like minded, powerful and inspiring individuals who have united together for the same purpose: to honor the memory of Armenian Genocide victims and survivors by recognizing the importance of their legacy in education,” stated ANCA-WR Education Committee Member and Luncheon Committee Chair Sedda Antekelian.

The program consisted of several performances emphasizing Armenian life, culture, and resilience for all guests to enjoy. In a special musical performance, Davit Mikayelyan and David Arutunyan played the duduk and duhol. Through dance, the Areni Dance Group performed the traditional Armenian “Areni” dance, which represents the celebration of the bountiful grape harvest.

Michael Aram’s limited-edition Apricot Tree of Life Sculpture was also featured at the luncheon. As a reminder, Michael Aram recently announced that he is generously donating proceeds from sales of this sculpture to the ANCA-WR. In order for proceeds to go directly to the ANCA-WR, orders must be placed either by visiting the store at 157 N Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048 or by calling 424.527.0060.

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Dickran Khodanian
Email / Tel: (818) 500-1918
Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
104 N Belmont St. Suite 200, Glendale, CA 91206 | | @anca_wr