by Julie Lineback
Jennifer Reid always wanted to be a teacher. She now has approximately 13,000 students a year.
No, Reid doesn’t work for a school system. The University of West Georgia graduate student is the group tour and volunteer manager for the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in downtown Atlanta. As the largest Jewish museum and repository of Jewish artifacts in the southeast, children from around the region visit to take a tour and hear a speaker.
“My job is a lot of history,” said Reid, who received her bachelor’s degree in history/secondary education at UWG in 2010 and plans to receive her master’s degree in public history next summer. “It is taking that history and turning it into a language that is understood by fifth and sixth graders as well as adults. Talking to adults is easy, but talking to kids about the Holocaust is much different. That takes speaking in a different way.”
In addition to managing tour groups who come through from beginning to end, she has also revamped the volunteer training for Breman’s Holocaust Galleries by rewriting the material not only to make it more understandable to children but also speakers of foreign languages.
“It’s important that we focus on the standards, the words we use and explain it in a different way so that someone who might be an English-as-a-second-language user can understand as well,” said Reid, who minored in German.
The Breman Museum is also home to Bearing Witness, a speaker series that features Holocaust survivors who recall their experiences during the Holocaust. It is free, open to the public and draws approximately 400 people every month.
“Because we are so volunteer driven, we are able to keep our costs very low,” she said. “We currently have about 30 Holocaust survivors who speak. Our oldest survivor speaker is 95 years old.”
Reid has been with the Breman Museum since she started as an intern five years ago. She said she chose the UWG public history program in order to have multiple career options.
“The education I received at UWG has helped me here in the museum field,” she shared. “It took me in a whole different route and prepared me for the nonprofit industry. Throughout the internship, I was able to gain real world experience. I definitely recommend an internship when you are choosing your program and career path.”
And while she thought the education aspect of her job would be what she enjoyed most, she said her work with volunteers is actually her favorite aspect.
“It’s very important for nonprofits to have membership and financials in order to continue their messages and goals,” Reid concluded. “The volunteers give their time. They are driven and so invested, and their passion is just wonderful. It’s an honor to be accepted into their lives and their world at the museum. The best part of every day is getting to hang out with my volunteers as we wait for the kids to arrive.”Posted on