Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Monday, October 27, 2014

Skype Provides an Unforgettable Experience for Students and an eLearning Coach

Today was an incredible day.  I am 43 years old and have always been fascinated with World War II. I have had the pleasure of meeting several WWII veterans and listening to their stories, as well as, collecting uniforms and artifacts from the time period.  I have seen many movies, documentaries, and even read books about the war.  I have been to museums and seen the tanks, planes, weapons, and pictures of the men and women that helped win the war.  I feel the WWII generation is the greatest generation.  In my opinion that group is full of heroes that served, fought, and even died which has allowed me to experience the life of freedom that I have today.  I am grateful and will not take for granted the sacrifices they made.

I have read many stories and novels about the Holocaust and the greatest evil I think this world has ever experienced.  Most of the novels that I read were with my middle school students when I was teaching ELA and Social Studies in my classroom.  At that time, finding a Holocaust survivor and having them speak to my students was just a dream.  Several years later, in my current position as an eLearning coach I had the honor of assisting a teacher and her class to make that dream a reality.

Sonya Farmer, a 7th grade teacher at Perry Heights Middle School in Evansville, Indiana, asked if I could help them Skype with an author of a book they were reading titled, Surviving The Angel of Death.  It was written by Eva Mozes Kor.  It is her account of her and her twin sister and how they survived Auschwitz death camp.  When I found out that she not only was an author, but a Holocaust survivor, I couldn't pass up this awesome opportunity.

The students gathered around my laptop, which we had connected to our Promethean Board.  Before we connected, we made sure most of the group was in the frame of the picture via the built in web camera.  We had the sound running through the classroom speakers and were ready to go.  I opened Skype and made the video call.  As soon as we connected we were greeted with a friendly, "Hello, can you see and hear me?"  We responded that we could and for the next 60 minutes about 30 seventh graders were riveted as they watched and listened to an amazing story of survival of twin sisters in a Nazi concentration camp.  I cannot imagine the horrible things that she and her sister overcame.

She finished up with three life lessons: 1. Never give up on your dreams.  If you don't do anything, nothing will happen, but by the same token, if you press on and take steps toward your dreams you will reach them.  2. Overcome being prejudice.  It leads to a life of hate and negativity.  3.  Learn to forgive others, even your enemies.  She felt like she was finally free when she forgave the Nazis for what they did to her and her family.  She said, "Anger is a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace!"

Eva is on the far right.
In conclusion, she answered some of the students' questions and told us about her museum  and website.  The site is and the museum is located in Terre Haute, Indiana.   On the website, there will soon be a countdown to the 70th anniversary of when she and her sister was liberated from Auschwitz.  She not only Skypes and has a website, she also asked us to follow her on Twitter.  I am impressed!  Her Twitter handle is @EvaMozesKor

This will be an experience that I will never forget.  I want to thank Eva Mozes Kor for sharing her story and Mrs. Farmer for asking for my assistance.  I am a life long learner and learned as much as the students did today.  If you would, follow Eva on Twitter and help her reach her goal of followers before the 70th anniversary.  Check out the website and I encourage you to read her book.  The students really enjoyed it.  I borrowed a copy from them today and will start it tonight.

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