*Members: If you have any announcements that you would like to post on the ROBS web site, please contact Nick Siciliano at News2@robsny.org. Announcements will be posted each month on this page.
If you miss any previous month's announcements, you can view them at the Archives page of this web site. You can also read more news in our Newsletters.In addition, if you have
your own web site, and would like to share it with other members, let us know and we can include the link on the ROBS site.
TFCU NEWS POSTED 6/3/13 Reprinted from Your Advantage, May 2013
June is Peanut Butter and Jelly Month at TFCU Soon children will be out of school for the summer. For many, this means the end to lunch programs they receive at their school. Sadly, this may also mean the end to the only meal they could count on for the day.
For this reason, for the entire month of June, Team TFCU will be collecting donations of jars of peanut butter and jelly. A collection bin will be available in each branch, as well
as a cash donation box. All monetary donations will be used to purchase additional jars of PB & J.
At the end of June, each branch will select a neighborhood food pantry to receive their accumulated supply.
Won’t you please help us in our endeavor to keep local kids fed this summer? Together we can make a difference
ROBS SCHOLARSHIPS 2013 POSTED 6/18/13
Once again ROBS was able to award a total of $3,000.00 in scholarship money to five deserving Brentwood High School seniors. The well-attended Scholarship Night was held on May 16, 2013 at Brentwood High School and ROBS Vice President Kathleen Guleksen was there to present awards to the winners. Daniel Costeira received the $1,000 Jack Zuckerman Award and Lucia Mejia received the $500 Lillian Kelly Award. The three other scholarship recipients of $500 ROBS awards were Nimer Arturo Maldonado, Edania Martinez and Jeanette Byrnes. For the second consecutive year ROBS was able to increase the number of $500 awards from three to four thanks to the generosity of ROBS members.
Click on Photo to enlarge
LETTER: TEACHER EVALUATION IS A 'GOTCHA' PROGRAM POSTED 6/7/13
As a retired teacher, I have nothing to gain or lose with this new evaluation system ["Teacher evaluations will factor into mayoral race," Editorial, June 4]. But as a former teacher, I know future generations have everything to lose and nothing to gain. There is nothing in this evaluation system that helps teachers improve. It is only a gotcha system.
If people really care about teacher quality, they should bring in quality administrators. When I started teaching in the 1970s, an assistant principal taught me how to teach, how to question and how to manage a classroom. Today's administrators barely have teaching experience, and some have almost none in the subject they are in charge of.
There is no argument about teachers being evaluated. But the evaluation should be meaningful, not junk science and not conducted by a person who, for example, taught math but is now in charge of special education. Everyone who is touting this new system should realize it has nothing to do with education and everything to do with money. Linda Silverman
Bellerose Manor Editor's note: The writer retired from Francis Lewis High School in 2011.
HIGH TEA AT THE BAYARD CUTTING ARBORETUM By Kathleen Guleksen POSTED 6/12/13
In spite of the pouring rain on May 7th, the ladies of ROBS gathered amid the gorgeous gardens of the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale for the second annual high tea. This year the tea was held in the intimate setting of the annex which was built in 1890 and stands next to the main house built four years earlier.
Our table was elegantly set with table linens and fine china. Each lady had a place setting of a different fine china pattern, one more lovely than the next. The table was arranged so guests could serve themselves from the three-tiered dishes filled with scrumptious scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam on the top level. The second tier had many tasty finger sandwiches including triple-decker ham salad, scallions and cream cheese, egg salad and sprouts and turkey with cranberry mayo. The bottom tier was filled with irresistible desserts, such as, mini cannoli, chocolate cream puffs and chocolate mousse.
The formal tea menu was presented, and each lady selected her favorite flavor of tea from a rather extensive list, which was then served in individual fine china tea pots. Everyone wanted refills to taste the different flavors.
Once again the ladies dressed for the occasion. Stylish hats were the order of the day. It was a delicious afternoon filled with sweet treats and fun conversation. View Event Photos
Too Much Emphasis on School Standardized Tests
By ROBERT RICKEN
Teachers and their supporters will gather in Albany Saturday to rally against the overuse of standardized testing in public education. The rally comes a week after the state Education Department mandated a new teacher evaluation system for New York City, where officials and the teacher union were unable to negotiate the means to evaluate teachers. In New York City and across the state, student test scores will provide up to 40 percent of every teacher's evaluation.
The pressure about new testing mandates was compounded this year because the state tests utilized the Common Core standards that redesigned curriculum. This curriculum is admirable, since it clearly provides a focus for daily instruction. But being required to simultaneously implement the testing demands, new teacher evaluations and a new curriculum has created enormous pressure in every school district. The rush to accomplish these tasks has, in many districts, also not been accompanied by adequate staff training on the Common Core standards. Continued. . .
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By Joseph Purcell This describes events following completion of the newly constructed Brentwood High School, Circa 1957. Joe was Head Librarian at BHS when he retired. He became a member of the Writers Group of ROBS.
The Library gets all kinds, but unlike the classroom teacher who is usually present upon their first entry and with experience can watch their interactions with their fellow students for some hint of their possible behavior, the student usually arrives at the library alone or in a small group and it is rare for a trained professional to be immediately present at the front desk to eyeball them. The first contact is often a clerk, frequently part-time, (the permanent clerks are too valuable doing other things), sometimes even a student monitor, both of whom assume even when given a modicum of training, one of two main postures. The first is complete indifference to whoever enters and the other is a somewhat haughty officiousness. Most students fortunately basically ignore both postures and simply go about their business but there are those few who unfortunately feel in the case of the first mode that they must be noticed because they are important at least in their own eyes, and the desk denizen is simply a servant put there to answer to their needs whatever that might be, and most particularly if it has nothing whatever to do with research needs but has much to do with smuggling molasses cookies or beer bottles, attempting to "accidentally" grope the nearest girl, or alternatively poke or kick your good friend and soon to be potential enemy. The second mode sets off certain students who simply never want to be asked any questions at all regarding their names, or the pass written on the paper which had originally wrapped the molasses cookies. Some faculty members reserved their most medical signatures for those students they simply wished to dump out of class that day and it was certainly not unheard of for certain faculty members to make deals with their more obstreperous students with virtually permanent passes signed almost illegibly so that if the student really fouled up the teacher would simply deny that it was his pass or alternatively that it was written to another destination
As bad as these nit-picking irritations were, much more serious things happened without much warning. One day a young man came in and with an exaggerated politeness, but no pass at all, insisted upon entering and began to engage in prolonged dialog with all surrounding him but without much regard for their responses or even any true recognition of their existence. When he bumped into the column holding up the roof and then proceeded to thrash it with his fists, head and legs, quickly bloodying himself, the screams from that quarter soon had me hot footing it over there. It was with great difficulty that I separated him from his columnar enemy and got him seated, but still far from calm.
It developed that he was a young man with serious mental difficulties who had supposedly been medicated but because of his erratic behavior was assigned no classes but was allowed to walk the halls day after day because of some dispute with special education over his handling. His small size caused the attacks he had already made against other students bearable but if he had ever used anything as a weapon, his single-mindedness and inability to tell if even he himself were being hurt could have led to a murder.
One fine day in the Ross library we were fortunate enough to have had donated about three hundred records which had been popular over the past ten years. Now although its true that there is nothing deader than most old pop music, there were some golden oldies in there, and we did have at least a few students who were prone to mine this stuff. It attracted students who did not usually come in for other materials. Attempting to get the discs into some sort of order we had appropriated some of the tables that students often sat at. It so happened that in the middle of the day we became rather crowded and students were quite nicely sharing their tables. One very agitated young man arrived throwing his pass at the clerk and scribbling his name on the sheet. The clerk wisely asked him no questions and we allowed him to throw himself into one of the chairs at a table also occupied by two girls. He seemed to calm down and so we ignored him until he suddenly leaped out of the chair and tore the loose-leaf notebook out of the girls hand, shredded the paper, and hurled it on the floor. My clerk rushed over to ask what the problem was only to be pushed unceremoniously out of the way. He then proceeded to destroy as quickly as he could all the records he could reach, smashing them on the ground and stomping on them, before I got there to intervene. It happened that his little sister had broken a lot of his records that morning and instead of his mother reprimanding her she blamed him for leaving his record collection lying around where the little girl could get at it. The two girls in the library were pretty baffled at becoming surrogate little sisters, our records were never replaced, and my clerk nursed her surrogate mother bruises without so much as an apology. The kid's mother and father refused to come to school so essentially nothing was ever resolved or even discussed properly.
The young Stan Yankowski was a formidable hunk of humanity and during the first few years he held sway over the Social Studies Department in a storeroom across the way from the Ross library. One day a very large young student who was hyper to the max began vigorously distributing his fellow students around the hall, off lockers and into and through the library doors.
Upon being approached by a couple of teachers, he promptly distributed them into awkward positions across the floor. The two teachers picked themselves up and returned to the fray assisted by Frank Conti, Stan Yankowski and myself. With Stan hanging on to the kid for dear life and the rest of us only partially successful in controlling each of his limbs an impasse was reached but we were unable to move him toward the office because his strength was being augmented by whatever drug he had taken. Then he started screaming and blubbering that he wanted his mother. Someone recognized that his mother lived only a couple of blocks away and she was immediately sent for. After telling him that his mother was on the way, he quieted down somewhat but anytime we released a limb hoping he would stop the enormous pressure he was putting on us, he would immediately flare up again. So there we were standing in the hall for twenty minutes, him bawling for his mother, and us trying desperately not to hurt or be hurt when finally his mother appears at the end of the hall crying in her turn for her little boy and what were those mean men doing to him. As she got closer she demanded that we release him in spite of our warnings to the contrary. She finally prevailed and we released him surprised that all he did was hold out his arms and walk toward her for a loving embrace. "Bitch", he shouted, and cold cocked her. She fell like an ox in a slaughter house and didn't even quiver. This time the five of us were more energetic and we hustled him into the nurse's office where I was told later that they had to strap him to a gurney to take him to the hospital.
Somebody reading this might feel that these were isolated incidents during the 34 years I was teaching. Far from it. These kind of incidents happened over and over again, but the unifying theme is always the almost terrifying unpredictability driven by the insecurities and fears of the adolescent student who can be as big and strong as most adults but whose mental and emotional maturity leaves much to be desired. You put a 1000 of them together in a small space, tie the hands of the teachers and administrators with constantly changing directives written by lawyers in State Chambers advised by Ivory Tower academics all leavened by political expediency and pandering and you've got ticking time bombs all over the country which for the most part are repeatedly defused by self-sacrificing teachers who often have to be shot and killed before the public recognizes their worth.
Executive Board Meeting
June 13 Museum of Moving Images & Queens Tour June 18
Why did we do it? What was our purpose in taking on such an open ended “History Project”; the one for which we’ve evolved a script of questions with corresponding answers from over one hundred and fifty dedicated volunteers for nearly two decades?
We couldn’t answer the question in ‘94 when people would ask “What are you going to do with the interviews?” All we could say was that for educational and informational purposes we had better document our record or lose any chance to preserve innumerable poignant accounts, humorous stories and touching tales told to us by exemplary educators and dedicated public servants, who shortly and for reasons unknown might soon be leaving our Brentwood for good.
We decided to let time sort out the details as we commenced making appointments to ask questions and simply listen. Listen we did as this project evolved saving for subsequent generations the very essence of what it means to have been an educator or employed in a large student centered public school system during the latter half of the twentieth century. Brentwood remains an exemplar to all the others; a diverse microcosm and accurate reflection of the approximately one hundred and twenty seven neighboring school districts on Long Island and the thousands across this country. We’ve accomplished something here, something we can all be proud of having been part of, whether we were interviewed or not, ours is a claim of service that few other professionals in the State of New York are positioned to share in a like manner. INITIALLY the practice of sitting for an hour with the Subject of our interview and giving them one hundred percent of our focused attention for that period of time seemed a little threatening to many of our friends and former colleagues. So much so in fact that many declined repeated invitations to be interviewed as they left careers behind or retired from full time employ with the District. Despite all assurances that this was not to be about investigative journalism or invading their privacy, they’ve deferred. Until now, almost seventeen years after we began, some say they may finally be ready. We say, “Better late than never”. However, to all those among you who were willing to share openly not only your classroom experiences but personal stories, precious memories from your lives and fondest hopes for the future, we say thanks for allowing us to be able to continue the process of giving as we now are able to share interviews with you, with the community and with countless regional professional educators and researchers through tentative acceptance of ROBS offer of collaboration with The Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University.
You can now enjoy unlimited visits to www.robsny.org/ where you’ll see and hear segments from the History Project Interviews featured here in the ROBS History Project section on the Announcements Page archived each month thereafter for those wishing to return again and again.
THIS MONTH'S FEATURED HISTORY PROJECT
Jeffrey Allen Wolfe Social Studies & Psychology Jeffrey Allen Wolfe was born June 19, 1942 in University Heights, the Bronx. The middle child of three, he was first of the brothers to graduate from college (New York University), and first of his family to become a teacher in the City of New York.
He was recruited by Brentwood Principal Fred Weaver in 1967 to teach Social Studies and interviewed by Vincent Presno and Manny Vega who gave him a tour of the high school. Walking along quiet hallways lined by classrooms where actual teaching was going on he thought he must be in heaven, particularly after the previous years experience teaching in the South Bronx.
Jeff taught classes in Social Studies and Psychology and then went on to become one of the most celebrated coaches in the sports history of the Brentwood School District. He was a major force in the areas of Boys and Girls Fencing even before Title 9 became law. He retired in June of 1997 following thirty years service as a beloved member of the high school staff. Jeff passed away on Jan 18, 2013 after succumbing to his battle with life threatening kidney disease.
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Baker Bazata, Eleanor
Laub, Dr. Herb
Sustrin, Letty and Sheila
Walker Lloyd, Shirley
The Town Crier" was set up a number of years ago so that the retirees of the Brentwood School District could have an email center to stay in touch. Since I began to send out all sorts of information, retirees from all over the country have sent me their email addresses. Some have asked, "Do you have any idea where so and so is?" Others have sent proud news of their accomplishments, their family news, photos,etc. and sadly, we often get bad news. Many retirees whom I have never met write me to thank me for keeping this connection going, as everyone remembers the Brentwood years with warm feelings.