Educator is awarded for Holocaust memorial
In an effort to teach her students about the impact of the Holocaust, one educator, with the help of her students, thought outside of the box, and ended up teaching a lesson to the entire community.
Monday night was a special night for that educator, as Linda Hooper was honored for her efforts, with the 2013 Characters Unite Award, presented by the USA Network in partnership with Charter Cable.
The Characters Unite Award is given to 10 winners a year; they are selected for their efforts to combat civil and human rights in their communities.
Hooper tells us she shares her award with her students, saying if it hadn't been for them, it wouldn't have happened.
"She took a small town and taught her students about tolerance," said Fred Haug, USA Network
It was an effort to teach students diversity at Whitwell Middle School by having them learn about the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews who lost their lives.
But when one student asked how many 6 million was, Hooper wanted to show them.
"6 million people perished and she was able to rally these students to create an idea," said Haug.
An idea that Linda credits to her students, it involved collecting paperclips to represent every victim.
"After the first year they were in the neighborhood of around a quarter of a million and then when my group came in, NBC picked it up, Washington Post picked it up and we ended up collecting around 30 million clips," said Casey Condra, former student.
However, with that many paperclips, Hooper needed something to store them in, something that was a little more permanent.
"That train car you see behind me is an authentic German transport car. We have survivors that have told us they traveled in cars like this one with us to 150 people," said Hooper.
Now the monument is a constant reminder of not only the Holocaust, but the importance of tolerance.
Years later, Condra says the lesson has stuck with him.
"I kind of go by the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated no matter what color of skin or language they speak," said Condra.
"Each one of us has something God gave us that we can contribute into a better world. So let's look for that," said Hooper.
Hooper received a $5,000 grant as part of the award. She says she hopes to use it to start a Family Children's Creative Arts Center at the school.