The Holocaust Museum Heads Back to School!

Originally published in the Naples Daily News on August 23, 2013
Article written by Amy Snyder, Executive Director

If we had a dollar for every time someone has said “I didn’t know we had a Holocaust Museum in Naples”, we wouldn’t have to do any fundraising!  That comment has decreased over the past two years, through the efforts of our media partners in Collier and Lee Counties.  However, there is still much that our community does not know about The Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida and its programs.

Did you know that is it mandatory in the State of Florida to teach about the Holocaust in the public schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade?  This mandate was established in 1994 and the only other mandate of similar import is that to teach African-American history.

That said, what does the mandate really mean?  It does not mean that every student at every grade level in every school gets the same information regarding the Holocaust.  In practice, it means that teachers at each level should be using the events of the Holocaust to explore human behavior, the consequences of prejudice and racism, and the responsibilities of citizens in a democratic nation.

For the past 12 years, The Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida has been doing just that.  We provide training for teachers and programming for students that are age-appropriate and geared to start each student thinking about his/her place in the world and what kind of person he/she wants to be.  With humble beginnings in Collier County, the Museum has expanded its programs in Lee, Glades, Charlotte, Hendry and, occasionally, Sarasota County, reaching an average of 15,000 students each year with Museum visits and outreach programs.

This has been accomplished with wonderful support from all facets of our community and can only continue with the same.  If you would like to support our programs, here are some things you should know:

  • $75 covers the cost for 25 students for a Museum field trip;
  • $150 allows the Museum to present an all-day outreach program at any school in SWFL;
  • $250 provides training & resources for one teacher, with the ability to impact up to 300 students each year;
  • $500 helps the Museum capture one more testimony of a Holocaust Survivor or Liberator so future generations can be part of the legacy;
  • $1,000 provides the opportunity for one school to experience The Boxcar Transportation & Education Project on its campus, impacting up to 1,000 students and teachers.

In the words of one Collier County teacher, “My students left the museum with insight and knowledge that will stay with them forever. Thank you so much for having this available to the children in our community.

The Museum has also expanded its programming for the general public over the past three years, bringing in exhibits that highlight little known elements of the Holocaust or genocides in other areas of the world since the Holocaust.  In the past year, the Museum has also increased its emphasis on World War II, and the lessons we still need to learn from the Greatest Generation.

It is our goal to introduce the young people of Collier County and beyond to the important stories of our WWII generation.  In so doing, we want to make history personal in such a way that the generations to come will be educated, encouraged and inspired to make a difference in their world.

If you would like to support the Museum in any way, please visit our website: http://www.holocaustmuseumswfl.org/make-a-donation/ or call the Museum at 239-263-9200.

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