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Survival is resistance: Holocaust speaker visits James Simons

HolocaustRELEASE DATE: May 13, 2024

Adolescent (middle school-aged) students at James Simons Montessori School recently studied the Holocaust through an integrated social studies and English language arts unit. On May 2, 2024, they had the opportunity to meet and listen to Sandra Brett, a child of Holocaust survivors. Her appearance at the school was coordinated through the Charleston Jewish Federation’s Remember Program. 

“Ms. Brett imparted a lot of wisdom on an engaged audience of adolescents,” explained Principal Elizabeth Dillenkoffer. “She shared her parents’ stories and how survival in general was a form of resistance and how brave it was to find ways to [avoid] the atrocities that people experienced during the Holocaust.”

As an artist by trade, Brett shared how people used art as a form of expression during and after the Holocaust. 

Students asked a variety of questions ranging from what Brett’s childhood was like living with parents who were survivors to how she carries out her parents’ legacy by telling their story today to what she thinks she may have done had she been alive during the Holocaust. 

Students and staff at James Simons said the experience was moving. One of the most important things about teaching students about the Holocaust is humanizing the experience, and exercises like reading survivors’ stories, reading the stories of “upstanders” (opposite of bystanders), looking at primary source documents of victims, and other activities help to achieve this objective.  

The Holocaust Remember program is free to schools and is highly impactful.  

“Our school community here at James Simons wants to formally thank Ms. Brett for her stories, her time, and her lesson on resistance,” added Dillenkoffer.

To learn more about this program, click on this link. For more information about the school visit, contact the publicity representative at James Simons Montessori, Jennifer Savage, at jennifer_savage@charleston.k12.sc.us.