Khiree’s Classroom: Holocaust survivor inspires elementary school students

Lise Marlowe is a teacher at Elkins Park School in Cheltenham Township and was trying to find a unique way to teach her students about the Holocaust.

She came across the trailer of a documentary about a deceased Holocaust survivor named Harry Somers. He escaped Nazi Germany when he was a teenager, but lost his parents and sister.

Somers later became an impressionist painter.

"He had everything taken from him but he still wanted to bring beauty into the world," said Marlowe.

She wanted to share Somers` story, so she had each of her students pick one of his paintings and write a poem about it.

"They also tied it into their own lives and their own struggles in life," said Marlowe. "The students wrote amazing profound poems and the really soul searched."

Max Fulmor is one of the students that wrote a poem.

"I was kind of feeling a little bit cold, because all of Harry`s painting were suppose to be beautiful and peaceful scenes and that painting made me think of how horrible this was," he said.

Somers` painting also inspired some of the students, like Lily Crocker, to make their own portraits.

"I think water scenes and sunsets are really pretty and calming and it could bring happiness to people," said Crocker.

Marlowe combined all of the students poems into a book that`s available on Amazon and a few local bookstores.

Unfortunately, Somers passed away in 2013.

Somers` wife sent the school one of his paintings, which now hangs in the front office.

"It`s like Harry`s alive again," said Marlowe. "We`re bringing Harry`s life back to her."

She hopes his story teaches these students that they can achieve anything.

"That you can overcome fears or obstacles that get in your way and that even when things are lost, you can make a new life," said Crocker.