Hartmann spearheads curricular revolution

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Diana Hartmann addresses the JCCIA.

The enormous positive impact of Italian immigrants on America has never garnered much attention in grade and high school classrooms across the state. But when longtime Illinois educator Diana Hartmann, Ed. S., noticed that books on the subject were disappearing from the shelves of school libraries, she decided to take action.

“I wanted to make sure that Italian-American contributions and experiences received the credit they were due,” says Hartmann, an educational administrator of Italian descent. “But I wanted to make sure we weren’t reinventing the wheel.”

A nationwide search led her to the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission, which was empowered by the state legislature to create curricula for the teaching of Italian-American history at the grade and high school levels.

Hartmann coordinated meetings between commission Chairman Robert DiBiase, JCCIA President Ron Onesti and New Jersey state officials. “In the end, they gifted us their entire curriculum to post, distribute and use throughout Illinois,” Hartmann says. “It was remarkably gracious of them.”

With October officially designated as Italian Heritage Month in Illinois thanks to the advocacy of State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, Hartmann is hoping to put the curriculum in the hands of as many educators as possible for use during the month. Hartmann is also working with DeLuca on an act that would mandate the teaching of Italian heritage each October in classrooms across the state.

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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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