Dan Perucco named this year’s recipient of the Leo Weiss Courage To Teach Award

Dan Perucco, 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher at Edgewood Middle School in Mounds View, MN, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Leo Weiss Courage To Teach Award.

This award, given out by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas annually, recognizes one educator who goes beyond the requirements of curriculum to teach and inspire young people about the lessons of the Holocaust. The Leo Weiss Courage to Teach Award has been given to an exceptional and impactful educator since 2011.

Mr. Perucco has taught for Mounds View Public Schools for ten years. His course includes a month-long Holocaust unit because he believes that students need to understand the impact of stereotypes and prejudice so they might develop empathy for people who are different from themselves. His unit pushes students to critically analyze propaganda, identify biased information, and consider multiple perspectives in order to better recognize sources of anti-semitism and other types of discrimination in our modern context.

In addition to classroom teaching, he serves as an instructional coach, developing teacher efficacy. He directs the theater program, advises the GSA, and coaches quiz bowl. He was awarded the 2024 Mounds View Education Association Community Educator Award. In his free time, he writes novels, distance runs, and plays the viola. He lives with his husband and their floppy rescue dog in New Brighton.

In the nomination, JCRC Holocaust education speaker Seth Togal stated:

“Every year, [Mr. Perucco] incorporates and spends three weeks on the Holocaust with his students. He wraps the subject by inviting speakers from Generations After, MN [JCRC] to speak to his students, and students in accompanying classes. But he doesn’t have just one speaker – he reserves entire days’ worth of speakers so that all of the students are able to hear us share our stories…His students are engaged, participate, are knowledgeable, and are always respectful. Mr. Perucco and his fellow teachers are always welcoming and genuinely interested in our stories. It is refreshing and heartwarming to find a teacher who willingly makes a topic as difficult as the Holocaust such an important part of their curriculum…Mr. Perucco is completely deserving of this award and recognition.”

School principal Richmond Tweh, added;

“I am glad to see Mr. Perruco being recognized for the work that he does to meet the need of each student. Mr. Perruco goes above and beyond for our students by providing great learning experiences to make the learning meaningful. In addition, Mr. Perruco is a teacher leader and coach for his peers. He supports the learning of his peers in a strategic ways to help them be better at their craft. Furthermore, Mr. Perruco is invested in our Edgewood community. He supports several extra-curricular activities such as our school musicals each year as well as Quiz Bowl! Seriously, he is an amazing educator and overall human-being!”

The Courage to Teach award was named in memory of Leo Weiss. Leo believed unequivocally in the value of human life – that it is a precious gift that must be defended and cherished. Leo’s message to students was that in the face of adversity, they should remain hopeful for the future and see themselves not as victims of their circumstances, but empowered to leave their mark on this earth through hard work and compassion for others. Leo’s commitment to Holocaust education was his contribution to protecting future generations from the horrors he experienced. His legacy lives on in these students.

The award will be presented at the Twin Cities Yom HaShoah Commemoration (Holocaust Remembrance Day) which will take place this year on Sunday, May 5, at 4:00 p.m. at Bet Shalom Congregation in Hopkins. The annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration honors the memory of the six million Jews and the other victims murdered in the Holocaust. It is free and open to the public.


As the consensus public affairs voice of the Jewish community, JCRC builds relationships to fight antisemitism and bigotry; educates about Judaism, Israel, antisemitism, and the Holocaust; advocates for Jewish values and priorities; and safeguards our community.