Using the history and lessons of the Holocaust, we teach about the ultimate effects of hate and prejudice and the need to encourage respect among all people.
In 1994, the Florida Legislature mandated that instruction on the Holocaust be included in all public schools. Last year 16,000 students either visited the Holocaust Center on a field trip or participated in an in-school presentation. We have developed the necessary educational resources and programs to help teachers bring the lessons of the Holocaust to the next generation.
Local author and advocate Joanie Schirm, whose father escaped Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, has offered to allow the Holocaust Center to exhibit her father's important letters and memorabilia - the impetus of her award-winning book, "Adventurers Against Their Will." The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has called this collection one of the most significant collections they have ever seen. We are anxious to include Dr. Holzer's unique story of escape through Shanghai and ultimate immigration to the United States to our museum. This exhibit will cost approximately $30,000 to develop, including adding this exhibit as an important stop in our current audio guide that is offered in both English and Spanish, temperature controlled exhibit cases and museum lighting.
While our recently launched audio guide is offered in both English and Spanish, our two permanent video exhibits - one with videotaped testimonies of local Survivors and the other that contains critical information about ghettos, are not accessible to our Spanish-speaking guests or to those who are hearing impaired and must rely on captions for content. The bid cost of adding English/Spanish narratives to these existing videos is $5,000.
Managing archival collections is a critical part of the Center’s responsibility. It has been a number of years since a thorough inventory was completed with attention to rare materials in need of repair. Professional contracted services are needed; the cost of a through inventory and assessment is approximately $100,000.
As the Executive Director of the Holocaust Memorial Resource
and Education Center, I am reminded every day of the ways in which we enrich
our Central Florida community.
Our Center was founded by Survivors who were determined that the atrocities of the Holocaust must always be remembered. Their vision – the history, the images, and the lessons we must learn – still guides our efforts. I am astonished at how much that small group created, and how forward-thinking those early activists were.
As I look around the museum, my eyes are drawn to our six memorial lights, never extinguished, that quietly reflect our duty to remember. We have artifacts that recall the lives of a few of Hitler’s six million victims. Their books, photographs, letters and everyday objects surround me. It is a constant reminder of the humanity of those who were lost, and that always touches me deeply.
Our founders knew that remembering the past is only a first step. We must continue to initiate thoughtful, sometimes difficult, conversations about the role of prejudice and marginalization in our daily lives. We must challenge intolerance in all its forms and advocate for justice. We must continue to take a leading role in activities that create a community where every person feels safe and valued.
I am so proud of our efforts, the embodiment of a mission that is unparalleled and unduplicated in our community. It is an honor to be able to offer programs for students, teachers and the public; for people who know a great deal about the Holocaust and for those who have only a glimmer of information.
So it happened again. Another tragedy. Another act of hate. another eulogization of innocent lives needlessly extinguished. More strong words. More debates on social media over who to blame, what to do and how to recover. More name calling and finger pointing, and...it's getting old. Really old.
The Center provides a cultural season of world-class exhibits, important films, and community observances, carefully chosen for artistic and cultural appeal. With powerful images and
poignant messages, these arts programs have been an effective vehicle to teach about courage and inspire individuals to become agents of change.
We take particular care to choose images and themes that are not repugnant or that show death and mutilation, but instead focus on images that remind us of the people, communities and cultures that have been lost.
Program decisions examine ways each offering supports the Center’s mission. Our goal is to create a community in which all people feel welcome and safe regardless of religion, race, culture or lifestyle, an ideal that requires acknowledgement of the impact of prejudice; a deeper understanding of that it means to be a respectful person; an appreciation of diversity in a pluralistic society; and respect for the values and institutions we cherish.
At each exhibit, film and presentation our visitors are asked to respond to a brief questionnaire. We ask, using a 4-point Likert scale, if they learned more about the Holocaust, if they learned more about a specific incident or issue of the Holocaust, if the program touched them emotionally, if the program met their expectations, and if they would recommend it to others.
All programs in the past five years have gotten overwhelmingly positive responses. In addition, we ask how the person became aware of that program in order to track the success of various marketing tools.
The 'success' of a program is its impact on visitors and supporters. The ultimate goal is to change the hearts and minds of a community over decades. The strongest indicators of success are the written comments of visitors who have taken advantage of our programs. Many of them express deep appreciation for the opportunity to learn about those dark moments of human history, and state that this new understanding of the lessons of the Holocaust has helped them think about their own lives and their own responsibility toward others.
In 1994, the Florida Legislature mandated that instruction
on the Holocaust be included in all public schools. This has given the Holocaust Center a broad
and complex task, one that includes both comprehensive teacher education and
direct support to students.
· Last year 16,000 students either visited the Holocaust Center on a field trip or participated in an in-school presentation. All of our Holocaust education programs are facilitated by our full-time Resource Teacher.
· We provide unique educational resources and programs to help teachers bring the lessons of the Holocaust to the next generation. These include a 4-day, 32 hour Teachers Institute each summer and ten monthly evening programs that provide Professional Development (inservice) credits for local teachers as well as providing them with critical support for their classrooms
Short-tem objectives for Holocaust education include:
The broad goal of Holocaust education is to help younger generations recognize the impact of prejudice, racism and stereotyping. We seek to go beyond mere ‘tolerance’, hoping to create a diverse community in which every person feels understood and accepted.
Teachers are provided with a guide to field trips prior to the visit, and then are asked if the tour met their expectations and if it had a significant impact on the students. Classes using teaching trunks are asked to return an evaluation form that asks what materials were most and least useful, and what recommendations they may have for updating materials available.
The most significant measurements of success are letters and cards created by student groups after field trips, expressing their appreciation for the experience and reflecting on how their visit improved their understanding of both the events and the lessons of the Holocaust.
Each year we increase the number of schools using the resources of the Center, and have more comments from teachers who see Holocaust education as a key resource for character development and a tool for creating models of good citizenship.
The first year of the project
During the program’s second year, the project expanded to five
Osceola County Schools, with 1812 new students participating, and an Osceola
County evening presentation that brought in just over 100 adults. It also
increased by four the number of participating Orange County Schools (1,600 students)
and two additional Orange County evening presentations were attended by about
The Center is partnering in a parallel project in Seminole County. It is based
on the same vision of reducing bullying behaviors through peer pressure and
At every presentation brief evaluations are distributed and
collected. So far they uniformly suggest that participants are more
knowledgeable about the dynamics of bullying, more clear about the role of bystanders
and upstanders in a variety of situations, and more confident in their ability
to make a difference. Perhaps of greater importance, their written comments
show how deeply touched many of them are by personal stories, particularly the
suicide of Ryan Halligan. Many audience responses include their declarations
that they will do what they can to interrupt bullying whenever and wherever
they see it.
After only 6 years this project has
already had significant impact. It has been the catalyst for a broad community
to adopt the term ‘upstander’ and to address – in all forms of media – the
responsibilities of bystanders to interrupt bullying. The Center has hosted summits on bullying, inviting representatives of schools, youth groups, law enforcement
and others to meet, share resources, and collaborate on projects. It has spun
off at least three “UpStander Clubs” in schools with requests for help in others
interested in creating their own school-based program.
Ultimately, the goal is to minimize bullying and
cyberbullying -- including adult and
workplace bullying – by changing passive bystanders into people who have the
insight, incentive and courage to intervene and interrupt.
Before this project was launched the Center contracted with
a PhD social scientist with expertise in process measurement. Benchmarks for
longitudinal shifts in existing measures of school climate had already been established.
After the program had been in existence for one year a formative evaluation was
published. Identified measures include attendance rates, growth indicators,
audience engagement, and targeted improvements in school climate using written
surveys, interviews, focus groups and participant observations.
Output objectives measure the number of school presentations
and community events, number of participating students, and creation and
availability of program-specific materials. Outcome objectives measure increase
in reported sense of attending a safe, respectful learning environment,
decrease in harassment and bullying, and increase in awareness of what it means
to be an upstander.
The most important and most gratifying indication of the
program’s success is in the written comments of students who have participated
in it, particularly those who have responded to John Halligan’s presentations:
Next time I see or
hear of someone being made fun of or bullied I will do my best to stop it.
We have a long commitment to multi-faith and multi-cultural partnerships, presenting programs to explore the beliefs of our community’s varying faith groups, reflecting on our differences and our sameness.
Both outputs and outcomes are used to assess progress toward goals. The most critical instrument for outcomes is a participant survey collected after every program. Using a 4-point Likert scale, attendees are asked to rate the quality of the program and the presenter, whether the program increased their knowledge of a core topic, if the program touched them emotionally (the strongest indicator of attitudinal/behavioral change), and if they would recommend the program to others. Surveys also include open-ended comment sections and ask for suggestions for upcoming programming. These surveys are tallied, and the results play a large role in program development and long-range planning.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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