When Montgomery county school board members brainstormed names for a new elementary school, they wanted the name of a person who intrigued and inspired. Former Whitman teacher Flora Singer did just that, assistant principal Kathy McHale said. Flora M. Singer Elementary School opened this fall.
While at Whitman, Singer developed the first curriculum for Holocaust instruction after she saw a flyer on a car claiming the Holocaust did not exist.
“She said a cold chill ran up her spine, and that’s what motivated her to start telling people about it,” McHale said.
Singer, her mother and sister were forced into hiding to escape concentration camps. They immigrated to New York in 1946.
While in New York, Singer taught herself English and got her graduate degree in French at the University of Maryland. After graduating, she taught at Whitman for 14 years, according to the Washington Post obituary following her passing in 2009.
“It’s an amazing legacy, not only for the school, but for the community, and even for the country,” said Singer Elementary principal Kyle Heatwole. “We plan on talking about her throughout the school year.”
The school will have literature and displays in Singer’s honor around campus, as well as information on its website. Singer’s family is helping the school with this, Heatwole said.
“I hope that the students learn from her example,” he said. “She led a positive life in the face of horrific circumstances, and had a positive impact on others.”
Faculty at Whitman remember Singer for her personality and her passion for teaching. Singer helped students speak more openly about the Holocaust, math teacher Susan Wildstrom said.
“She was a gentle, caring kind of woman,” Wildstrom said. “She shared her story with people.”