Vera Ripp Hirschhorn, M.S., has been an educator for over thirty years and since the mid-1990s created the Spirit of Heroes curricula in Florida’s secondary schools to teach tolerance and understanding in memory of her family, victims of genocide due to prejudice, hatred and bigotry.
Since 1999, after the Columbine High School tragedy, Ms. Hirschhorn, M.S. developed the Celebration of America’s Young Heroes Month program to prevent bullying and promote respect via the arts such as photography, essays, poetry, film and music. Students nominated their peers or themselves as heroes for having overcome adversities such as bullying with positive thoughts, words and action. Students and teachers have been recognized at annual awards & ceremonies with trophies, certificates and cash prizes.
Ms. Hirschhorn, M.S. has been awarded by Boca Raton’s Promise, a chapter of Colin Powell’s ‘America’s Promise’ and by Boca Raton with a key to the City and has also received Proclamations from the Mayor of Boca Raton, the Board of Palm Beach County Commissioners, the School Board and Superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County, for having created a program and contests that ’emphasize personal growth, positive school and community involvement.’
The award winning author of “Teens Are Heroes, Too! Challenges, Choices & Character”was honored with an endorsement from the Superintendent of Schools for having ‘dedicated much of her life toward the betterment of mankind through the focus on our youth.’
Ms. Hirschhorn’s work in secondary schools was applauded by Dr. Susannah Brown, Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education, with the inclusion of excerpts from her anthology, “Teens Are Heroes, Too: Challenges, Choices & Character” in Dr. Brown’s textbook Teaching Art Integration in the Schools for her College of Education students. Additionally, a member of the Boca Raton Branch of the National League of American Pen Women purchased and donated copies of “Teens Are Heroes, Too!” to the Gateways Library Program for the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center, an Outreach Project founded by Kim Hale.
Ms. Hirschhorn has written curricula for future teachers, and collaborated with Dr. Brown on a bullying prevention project, culminating in an exhibit, “Art Has Character: Images of How Visual Art Supports Positive Interaction for the Betterment of Others.” Palm Beach State College has invited her to speak to students on ‘Loving Who You Are’ and Tips on Discovering their Passion with Purpose.
Most recently, Ms. Hirschhorn, M.S. and students received accolades from the 112th United States House of Representatives with two Congressional Records for “their great work and advocacy on behalf of respect and acceptance” and “making Florida schools a safer place for our children.”