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NEXT GENERATIONS expands its Holocaust education programs

Press release from NEXT GENERATIONS and Alachua County Public Schools

The group conducted online sessions between May 24 and June 11 with 5th graders at ten Alachua County elementary schools, including Chiles, Idylwild, Alachua, Metcalfe, High Springs, Foster, Terwilliger, Glen Springs, Hidden Oak, and Talbot

Instead of shutting down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, NEXT GENERATIONS of Holocaust Survivors school educational programs exploded! The volunteer educators responded to the challenge of bringing meaningful, authentic lessons to students by switching from live programs to virtual programs via the internet.

Based in Boynton Beach, Florida, NEXT GENERATIONS of Holocaust Survivors is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 primarily by children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.  NEXT GENERATIONS strives to preserve the legacy of those who perished and honor those who survived the Holocaust. Through Holocaust awareness and education, the organization seeks to stop bullying, discrimination, intolerance, and anti-Semitism in order to prevent another world atrocity. 

NEXT GENERATIONS partnered with the Palm Beach County Schools (PBC) in several ways. Kim Coombs, Program Planner of Holocaust Studies (K-12) in PBC Schools, worked very closely with NEXT GENERATIONS to bring virtual programs to as many students as possible. For the International Butterfly Project, along with financial support from MorseLife Now for Holocaust Survivors, students learned about individual children who were murdered during the Holocaust; they then painted individual butterflies that will be incorporated into a sculpture at MorseLife in West Palm Beach. Over 20 schools participated, with over 2500 butterflies completed for the sculpture. Additionally, NEXT GENERATIONS brought unique, interactive virtual programs about the significance of the butterfly to 13 of the participating schools in the district. They also virtually “visited” 5th grade students in 4 schools, with close to 1000 students involved, discussing the lessons of the Holocaust. NEXT GENERATIONS Speakers Bureau chairperson Gerard Lob arranged to virtually “send” 7 Survivors or their “2G” children to address students in 7 PBC high schools, reaching over 1500 students.

In Alachua County, Florida, former NG Board member Helen Frankel introduced the organization to Dr. Jon Rehm, the Curriculum Specialist Social Studies K-12; he is the person responsible for implementing Holocaust education for Alachua County Public Schools. The NG educators virtually “visited” nine schools during twenty-two sessions, interacting with over 850 students. 

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NEXT GENERATIONS is also working with institutions near Orlando. Gerard Lob spoke to 800 students at Bishop Moore High School in Orlando.  This Fall, NG will be providing a series of three virtual presentations for the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland, Florida (near Orlando). These programs will be available for children and adults.

Randi Posner, the chairperson of Education and Outreach for NEXT GENERATIONS, remarked, “At the beginning of the pandemic, we were very worried about our educational programs. If we couldn’t be in the schools, how could we present our two-hour programs, which included an introduction to the Holocaust, two brief videos on bullying, understanding the number 6 million, and being an upstander instead of a bystander?” Together with the Educational Team members, NEXT GENERATIONS learned how to adapt using the internet for virtual presentations.  These programs were provided at no cost to the schools, and several of the NG presenters are former teachers who understand just how to reach children. Posner continued, “As the summer begins, we are already working with our partner schools for the upcoming school year. NEXT GENERATIONS will continue to share the lessons from the Holocaust to help students create a kinder, safer world. We are very excited to continue our work together!”