Over the course of many years, having conducted workshops and made presentations across the Deep South, we have developed a network of motivated teachers. Here are some of their comments:
Jennings High School, Jennings, Louisiana
This has been – by far – the best workshop I’ve ever attended. It gives me hope to know that I’m not alone in wanting to bring this story to the next generation. I learned a tremendous amount. I have yet to fully wrap my mind around all that has been presented to me. I have been longing to know of survivors here in Louisiana, so that it would be more personal to myself and my kids. That is definitely what I received from the workshop.
VENNA B. EVERETT
Saint James School, Montgomery, Alabama
This has been a really wonderful week of learning! I was very happy and blessed to have this opportunity. To me, in my classroom, history has always been about ‘telling stories.’ This is the most effective way to get the students interested. Now, to learn about a particular person, their history – and be able not only to share their memory but teach lessons of empathy, compassion, and awareness – this gives us another tool. Holocaust survivors need their stories told because we cannot let the past repeat itself. I have fallen in love with (survivors) Liselotte Weil and Felicia Fuksman. I cannot wait to tell their stories and shine some light on their lives.
Slidell High School, Slidell, Louisiana
I thought this workshop has been the best one I have attended in my years of teaching. The time spent was enjoyable and went by quickly because of the style of the seminar and the vast amount of knowledge given by Plater. I learned to see the Holocaust not through the numbers of victims but through the eyes of individuals. This has helped show me how to “humanize” the tragedy for my students. This is an experience I won’t forget and hope to be a part of again. There was a big emotional impact over the week, after studying about (survivors) Felicia and Liselotte. I feel like I know not only their story but them as well. I’m excited about spreading their stories inside and outside my classroom. Thank you for holding this seminar. It’s truly important.
Ellender High School, Houma, Louisiana
I thought the seminar was great. It was different from a basic World War II seminar that was heavy on names/dates/places but light on personal stories. This seminar is a great way to connect students with the reality of the Holocaust. As Plater says, ‘It is impossible to teach six million stories.’ Teaching one story in such a personal way will translate well in the classroom and in community venues.
I think the Southern Institute for Education and Research has done a wonderful job in building relationships with the survivors over the decades. God has used Plater in a very great way to spread the word as well as helping survivors deal with their trauma.
Creekside Junior High, Pearl River, Louisiana
This is the second time that I have attended this seminar and I hope to be allowed to attend again. I am now a Teacher Fellow and proud to be ‘courier of memory.’ The seminar was well done. I especially liked the evening session with Mrs. Levy (Holocaust survivor) and the ability to ask questions to her directly. Each time I attend a seminar by the Southern Institute, I feel that I gain a better and deeper understanding of this horrific time in history. However, I feel like I still have a life time of learning still ahead, and I appreciate these seminars as an avenue to that education. Plater is always well prepared and is a brilliant source of knowledge about the Holocaust and about teaching tolerance.
Lecturer, Mobile, Alabama
I learned to teach the history of the Holocaust based on real life experiences of the survivors, the important ’moments’ that were turning points of their lives and how they were affected. We must be effective communicators, for our audience to relate to it. I was so touched by the way Plater delivered the stories of our survivors that I was feeling their pain and suffering and I hope I can learn to be as effective as he is.
CANDICE A. WHIGHAM
Kentwood High School, Kentwood, Louisiana
This seminar was amazing. I was able to learn more about the Holocaust and was introduced to survivors and was able to hear their stories. As a teacher, I have been able to inform my students of limited portions of the Jewish Holocaust. With this seminar, I was able to explore the Holocaust in depth. Hearing the stories of their experiences really touched my heart, especially Anne Levy’s story. She was a child during the Holocaust and all I could think about were our children and how would I have reacted to save them. I believe this seminar has helped to reshape my world view. As a ‘courier of memory,’ I have to be able to explore and understand other educated views in order to help others to evolve and explore outside of their own worldview into acceptance. This opportunity to share will help to change minds for the good of humankind, one mind at a time, starting with mine.
Abbeville High School, Abbeville, Louisiana
Overall: great exposure to a dwindling oral history. Loved hearing (survivor) Anne Levy. Plater’s expertise is invaluable. What did I learn? The importance of teaching the Holocaust in ‘moments.’ Emotional impact: This week provided a reality check and offered personal growth. I can’t wait to teach my Holocaust literature unit. This experience reiterates the need for teaching tolerance.
West Blocton High School, West Blocton, Alabama, and Birmingham Holocaust Education Center
This style of focusing so intently on the individual is fantastic.
ANITA M. DUBROC
South Terrebonne High School, Bourg, Louisiana
I found the seminar to be very informative. I really appreciated the multitude of photographs that was included in the presentations. I loved meeting (survivor) Anne Levy. She is my inspiration! Plater is truly informative (and entertaining). Thank you for the multitude of resources. They will be used for more than just my presentations. Thank you also for having (Teacher Fellows) Deshana McLemore and Laura Aysen give presentations – it made the presenting aspect very ‘do-able.’
Westdale Middle School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I learned content that is invaluable to aid me in my instruction. I learned to teach the Holocaust through the eyes of a few survivors other than overwhelm students with six million. I liked the expression, ‘It was a Holocaust of one times six million.’ I truly loved this experience and feel so honored that I had the opportunity to collaborate with such amazing educators and Plater.
Arodah: The Jewish Service Corps
I have thoroughly enjoyed this workshop. Learning about this particular topic through personal narratives is a very effective method/platform. I look forward to using this platform for my grandfather’s story and understand the significance of not only sharing his story but also (survivors) Felicia’s and Liselotte’s. I only wish the workshop was longer and there was more time!
Lagniappe Academics, New Orleans, Louisiana
This workshop was very effective in teaching about the lives of the survivors. We were given extreme detail and sources to bring the survivors stories to life (especially the stories told by Plater). It had a strong emotional impact for me. I feel like I really got to know and have met these survivors. I feel prepared to bring this information to others. Everyone showed interest. And the importance of listening and telling these stories was apparent.
Independence High School, Independence, Louisiana.
I thought the workshop was awesome. The best part was Plater’s passion for the subject matter. The emotional part of it was realizing how cruel people are. I take from the workshop that I am now responsible for telling someone else’s story and I have to make sure I do them justice.
Hammond Junior High Magnet School, Hammond, Louisiana
I absolutely enjoyed this workshop! I have been hesitant to attend for the past three years. I’m so glad that I did. Very emotional but in a positive and learning way. Plater is so informative – I was a sponge. Although he was a little intimidating at times, that was okay. He was holding us accountable! I am100% interested in attending more workshops in the future. This might be a stretch but I would love if there were ever funds to be able to send the Teacher Fellows to Europe with Plater so he can guide us through the history there! (A stretch, I know, but would be awesome!!)
HOWARD M. SILVERMAN
Lecturer, Springhill Avenue Temple, Mobile, Alabama
I would like to compliment the staff of the Southern Institute for a superb presentation and teaching guide for the education of the world to learn about the Holocaust. Being a modern American Jewish man who heard many stories about the Holocaust from family, I related to the presentations. The enthusiasm shown by Plater Robinson gave the history much more meaning. I actually learned more of the history leading up to the Holocaust. The emotional impact: to reach out to as many people as possible and to relate these stories of our survivors. My wife Patricia and I will, together, try to educate as many people as possible to the horrors of that time. Many of the Jewish community in Mobile, Alabama, area have no clue as to the horrors our people experienced.
NANCY LEE MCDANIEL
Former Orleans Parish School principal (and Newcomb College graduate)
I thought this was better than any class that I ever had at Newcomb College and I had some great teachers! I certainly hope that I am invited to be a ‘guest’ next year, ‘God willing and the creek don’t rise.’
South Terrebonne High School, Chauvin, Louisiana
This is the best workshop I have ever attended. I have learned more than I have in the seven years I’ve been teaching. I will never forget the testimonies of the survivors; they are life-changing. I cannot wait to share the important lessons with my students. I only hope I can do justice to the survivors. I think Plater Robinson is one of the best presenters I have ever encountered. He has so much knowledge, and his way of dispensing has taught me new teaching methods as well.
Caddo Middle Magnet School, Shreveport, Louisiana
I have learned more useful information in this seminar than in semesters of lecture classes. The oral history will live on because of this seminar
JAQUELINE de PUMPO RUIZ
University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
This was such a wonderful teaching experience. I will take everything I have learned into my classroom. I could not ask for better resources. The binder is so well organized. I will definitely use the documentaries and stories with my peers and students. Plater has such a brilliant mind! His passion is enchanting! The world is so lucky to have such a humanitarian and historian.
Lacombe Middle School, Chauvin, Louisiana
I leave here feeling both honored and humbled. I have been to numerous workshops and none have moved me in the way the survivors stories have. There was just so much I didn’t know. Plater’s relationship with the survivors is so pure, honest and real. This vast knowledge of the Holocaust is…I cannot find words to describe. I have learned not only so much about the Holocaust, history, and teaching, but also more about myself!
JO ANNA SAMPSON
Champ Cooper Junior High School, Hammond, Louisiana
The workshop was an amazing learning experience. I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn and to be a ‘courier’ of history.
Mississippi Gulf Community College, Biloxi, Mississippi
Excellent! The notes and primary sources are invaluable, can’t wait to use the documentaries. The survivors were very powerful and emotionally moving. I was honored to hear their stories and will continue to share them with others.
Champ Cooper Junior High School, Hammond, Louisiana
All I have to say is in this crazy world we live in, it is wonderfully refreshing to come across someone so passionate and loving about people’s lives and stories as Plater Robinson. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this workshop. What a privilege!
George County High School, Mobile, Alabama
The entire experience is almost indescribable. Plater presents the material in a very effective manner. The pictures add so much to the image. The time spent with the survivors is life changing. Time stands still. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to experience and now to share with my students.
Our Lady of the Lake School, Mandeville, Louisiana
The stories are mesmerizing and unforgettable. I’ve always believed the only way to each history is to treat it as a story. I love telling stories, and now I have beautiful stories of struggle and survival. I know so much more than I ever have about the Holocaust, and I am so glad I could be part of this workshop.
Christian Collegiate Academy, Gulfport, Mississippi
I greatly enjoyed the workshop on the Holocaust. I found it so amazing that I learned so much in such a short amount of time.
Fairhope Middle School, Baldwin County Public Schools, Fairhope, Alabama
First of all, I want to thank Plater Robinson, Dr. Lance Hill, and Carrie McKay for one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I feel deeply honored to have had the privilege to meet and work with these wonderful people. A special thanks and recognition to Plater Robinson, whose depth of knowledge of the Holocaust astounded me. Also, his expertise of the history and geography of Europe, and especially Poland was also very enlightening. I probably learned more in this concentrated week of presentations by Plater, Anne Levy, and my fellow teachers than I ever absorbed from a college history course. I want to thank all of you, too, for the privilege of meeting a wonderful person. Anne Levy is a very humble and gracious lady. I want to express my appreciation to her for her honesty, humility, and her willingness to share her story with us. Also, working with a small group of educators as we did was very rewarding. I was humbled by the company I was in. I met some great people, some of whom I will continue to be friends and colleagues with. Sharing information, knowledge, and lesson plans with other teachers such as these will be very promising. A special thanks to Mark Lester, for sharing his technology expertise with all of us. I learned so much! Also, thanks to Plater for introducing me to Siggy Boaraks. Siggy, although passed now, came to life because of Plater Robinson. Plater’s uncanny attention to detail and his remarkable memory enabled us to know Siggy as if he were still with us. Although completely worn out after coming home from your workshop, I feel as though I have gained an indescribably amount of knowledge. I feel as though you are now my friends, and I hope to continue to educate people about these two wonderful, heroic lives. I feel blessed and richer for the experience.
LaGATHA C. KAY
Taylorsville Attendance Center, Smith County School District, Taylorsville, Mississippi
This workshop was so well organized and so meaningful, it was truly awesome! I learned so much that I often fall asleep in the evening thinking about that I needed time to absorb or to internalize to make it my own. I think I learned as much content concerning this time period as an entire semester in a master’s class, if not more so. I really needed to attend for content and for the emotional impact that I experienced as I listened to the survivor’s struggles and the personal victories each experienced throughout those struggles. I certainly gained not just knowledge but a deeper understanding and empathy for all the survivors of such a horrific period in the human experience. I believe that I have grown mentally and emotionally because of this workshop and the manner in which it was presented. I know I developed a better understand of the war that caused such devilish behavior toward the Jewish people collectively and individually. I am deeply saddened but thankful that the survivors were able to speak out and I am thankful of the Southern Institute for seeking them out and encouraging them to speak. Plater Robinson is deserving of many thanks for his being so honest and straightforward throughout the workshop. He corrected misconceptions and errors to honestly, no one could misunderstand his intent. His constructive critique was much appreciated. The resources that were shared from other participants, along with those from the Southern Institute, are tremendously valuable. I will be able to spend many hours involved in self-directed activities to discover even more during this year. This workshop left me with a feeling that I need to know more, do more.
I would really like to visit the places in Germany and Poland that are so important to her story. To personally see the geography the places, would add so much depth to my understanding and message. I have never been on soil that is not American, so my experiences are limited.
Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette, Louisiana
I found the workshop extremely educational and compelling. It is truly inspiring – and moving – to learn from the stories of these survivors. Looking into the face of one [Anne Levy] while she describes what it was like hiding in a crate for hours a day while her parents went to work, not knowing if they would return, not knowing if she would be discovered, only knowing that each moment of each day her life was at stake…well, that is a truly powerful experience. The workshop was not only one of the most educational I have attended, but also one of the most affecting. I cannot imagine anyone leaving the week without being touched and changed in some way, including those who have attended before and even those who may believe that they do not care. The attention to detail, volume of information and passion with which Mr. Robinson ‘tells the story,’ is remarkable. It is hard to summarize what I learned, as I was not as well versed in the history as many of the others and, truth be told, I learned more than I could digest in a week’s time. I felt that I had attended an entire semester class in a single week, which is another highlight. The seminar began promptly at 9:00 A. M. and lasted until 5:00 P. M. all four days (the fifth day was a day for presentations). During the eight hours, there was never a moment of useless ‘down time.’ Each day was packed with material (additionally, the reference and resource material provided was excellent with outlines, photographs, detailed study guides, transcripts of survivor interviews, the actual videos of interviews…fantastic…everything is provided that someone would need to create their own presentation. Participants were assigned presentations at the beginning of the week and Friday was set aside for delivering these presentations. The seminar included technology training for participants to aid them in creating these assignments. Aside from the historical education I received, I was deeply changed by the humanitarianism that is the crux of the experience. This seminar is not just a history lesson…in fact, that is the least of it. The seminar is an experience in humanity…its beauty and kindness and heroism; as well as its potential for utter hatred and devastation. It is a training ground for nurturing compassion, bravery, justice, insight and understanding. It is a powerful experience that I would recommend to anyone.