A 5th grader's school project dedicated to "Hitler's accomplishments" resulted in a teacher's resignation in New Jersey's city of Tenafly, according to a local media report.
The unnamed teacher agreed to step down from their position at Maugham Elementary School after education officials pointed at “misguided instruction” that led to the “offensive and inappropriate” project, in which an 11-year-old girl appeared to present the "accomplishments" of German Nazi leader Adolph Hitler.
School principal Jennifer Ferrara was reinstated in her position after she and the teacher were sent on paid administrative leave, according to a decision made by the Tenafly Board of Education.
"As a school leader, I definitely made mistakes that played a role in what happened, and for that, I take full responsibility and I'm eternally sorry. This experience has taught me to think more broadly about the consequences of every decision that I make", Ferrara said, cited by the Pascack Valley Daily Voice.
Schools superintendent Shauna DeMarco said that "an attempt to individualize the project resulted in the student receiving misguided instruction from the teacher". This resulted in the fifth-grader not only listing Hitler's "accomplishments" in her project but even dressing up as the Nazi leader for her presentation.
“My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austrian people behind me. My beli(e)f in antisemitism drove me to kill more than 6 million Jews. I was pretty great, wasn’t I? I was very popular and many people followed me until I died,” the girl's essay read, according to the report.
Parents reportedly rallied in defense of the teacher, principal, and the student, suggesting that the girl was trying to point at how horrible Hitler was by trying to guess how he viewed himself. According to the report, the girl did not understand the assignment properly, and was trying to "learn about where hate comes from" given that "Asian Americans are experiencing so much hate aimed at them right now".
"So she chose a person who was famous for his racist and anti-Semitic hate for her project", said Rabbi Jordan Millstein, who met with the girl's family. "Then she just followed the directions that the teacher had given them for the project, which included dressing up as Hitler for her presentation to the class.
DeMarco admitted that the situation “has had a devastating impact on the student involved and their family".
“It has also been incredibly painful for our Jewish community members in the face of increasing instances of antisemitism around the country", she said.
Adolph Hitler, the leader of Germany's 20th century Nazi political party, alongside his supporters, is responsible for World War II, in which an estimated total of 70-80 million died including almost 27 million in the former Soviet Union alone; and the Holocaust, in which some 6 million Jews were killed in a genocide.
The war began in 1939 and ended in 1945 with a victory by the Soviet Union and its Allies in the West.