Louisville Teacher Headed To New York To Receive 'Spirit Of Anne Frank' Award
By David McArthur
(LOUISVILLE) -- The Holocaust is not something a lot of people talk about, but Louisville teacher Fred Whitaker wants to change that while changing his students through the experience. And as WAVE 3's David McArthur reports, his efforts are attracting national attention.
From one of the darkest pages in history, Fred Whitaker finds a passion to teach a difficult subject.
"At least one of Jews that died had a life just like you," Whitaker said. "They feared, they loved, they laughed, they dreamt."
For 20-plus years, the Holocaust has played a role shaping Whitaker's life.
Now he's using it to to help shape young minds. "We do use the Holocaust education unit as a bridge to understanding what is evil, what is indifference, what is prejudice, what is intolerance."
While his classroom at St. Francis of Assisi is empty for the summer, Fred Whitaker is attracting national attention.
Following in the footsteps of U.S. Presidents, Whitaker is one of five teachers in the U.S., to receive the "Spirit of Anne Frank" award.
"There are parts of us that are just indestructible," he said. "You like to believe everybody has some sort of grand and magnificent optimism. You like to think you can quote Anne Frank in your own life, at least through your actions and say really, I do believe there is good in all people."
Taking a that message to heart, it was two years ago when St. Francis students awarded a Holocaust survivor, Ernie Marx, the 8th grade diploma he missed while in a concentration camp.
Whitaker says "He brings us the idea that people who were in Holocaust had real lives, just like Ernie and just like us, that they were actual human beings."
The Spirit of Anne Frank award ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14th, in New York City. Whitaker says he hopes to use the experience to learn more about the Holocaust and share that with his students next year.
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