I had my first guest speaker as a teacher today.
I arranged to have a man by the name of Mark Strauss come and talk to about 140 of our students at our school today. He is a Holocaust survivor. He was 11 when his town was occupied in 1941 somewhere in Poland. He shared his experiences of living in German-occupied Poland with the students. He told the students stories about when the German troops first marched into his town, about 1000s being taken away in trucks to never be seen again, about living in the Ghetto and the horrors & necessities of everyday life, and about hiding in the home of a Polish Catholic woman for over 22 months until the Soviets came and ended the German occupation. He told about coming to America at the age of 16 and starting a new life.
It was quite an experience to be able to hear the stories first hand and in person. Our students were engaged. They were well-behaved (for the most part - I'm planning on eating the bad students later...). They asked so many questions. I was so proud of them. They really seemed to take a lot from the experience. So much better than a textbook!
Mr. Strauss is also an artist. He brought his Holocaust related art with him. It provided a great visual for the kids. It was also amazing considering that he's missing half his fingers. He had a bomb blow up in his hands... Some of his Holocaust-related works:Actually, most of his art is very cheerful & whimsical. I love his landscapes. I'll show you some of the prints that I purchased for the nursery in a later post.
You can check more of his art out at his website.
Another of the social studies teachers is working on having a WWII Veteran who survived the invasion of Normandy come and speak to our students in early April. I hope the little man holds off long enough for me to hear him speak. I would love to have the chance. Hear that, Baby? Don't come early! Either way, my students will have the chance to hear him and that's what's most important.