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  IN THE NEWS                                                                        JUNE 2015

June 8

June 25
Executive Board Meeting

Meeting Dates

Calendar of Events

POSTED 6/4/15
     On Friday, May 8, the ROBS general membership meeting was held in the Brentwood Public Library Auditorium. It included the ROBS History Project Presentation where digitized collections of interviews were symbolically presented to Geri E. Solomon Assistant Dean for Special Collections and Hofstra University Archivist, Debra A. Willett, Senior Library Assistant, L.I. Studies Institute, Hofstra University Library and Xibe Solis, Assistant Director, Brentwood Public Library, Mary Reed, Board President, Brentwood Public Library, Ellen Edelstein, Vice President Brentwood Public Library Board, and President of Brentwood Historical Society. Recording the event and proceedings were Felix Adeyeye, Director of Public Relations, Brentwood Union Free School District and Peter Ward for The Brentwood Historical Society, Ronda Brooks and Gloria Hannemann for ROBS.

     The ROBS History Project began 21 years ago. Its purpose was to document early union activity. Over time it evolved into a more representative collection of 153 local interviews of public servants; that included Teachers, Administrators, Clericals, Superintendents and Board Members.
      Our May morning began by welcoming past and present members of ROBS, subjects, friends and families of the History Project, introducing our guests, among them the representatives afore named. Following a presentation of the archives there was a 15 minute slide presentation that included smiling faces of all those who’d been interviewed. There were open mics provided in the audience for sharing of thoughts, feelings, memories and impressions by the people in attendance. A group photo was taken of all of the interviewees who were present or family members representing those deceased.
     Each person who was interviewed, or a family member of a deceased interviewee, received a free DVD of their interview before leaving. A meet and greet segment followed accompanied by refreshments provided by the Brentwood Public Library.
     You can view the photo album of this special event here. It can also be found on the Photo Gallery page of the ROBS Website. In addition to the photos of the event, you can view the 15 minute slide presentation of all those who had been interviewed and read about the story behind the History Project.

How are we doing?
We'd like to hear from you.

Please visit our
Letters to the Editor

where you can share your views and comments

View the "In Memoriam" page
with the list of our Brentwood colleagues who have passed away. This list will be updated on a yearly basis.

POSTED 6/5/15
     The special education department is hosting a Happy Hour to honor its retiring teachers on Friday, June 12 at 2:30 pm. It will be held at Upsky on Motor Parkway in Hauppauge (formerly the Sheeraton). Enclosed is a flyer with detailed information.

     The Alliance For Retired Americans is one of the country's leading progressive grassroots senior organizations. The long-term goal of the Alliance is to become the voice for all older Americans. It engages in important political battles to protect and preserve programs vital to the health and economic security of older Americans. Read the latest Friday Alert from the Alliance here.




Support VOTE-COPE with your voluntary contribution. Download the VOTE-COPE Contribution Card here.

Check out the Famous People and Events on that special day in June and see what else happened!
Historical People and Events for June

June 2015 Holidays, Bizarre, Unique, Special Days
Bizarre and Unique H

All About June
June in History

Why did we do it?
     What was our purpose in taking on such an open ended “History Project”; for which we evolved a script of questions and got answers from over 150 subjects for two decades?
     We couldn’t answer the question in 1994 when people would ask “What are you going to do with the interviews?” All we could say was that for educational purposes we had to document our record now or lose the chance to preserve so many poignant accounts, funny stories and touching tales told by exemplary educators. We knew these dedicated public servants might shortly, for reasons yet unknown, be leaving Brentwood for good.
     So, we decided to let time sort out the details. We began scheduling appointments. We asked questions and listened saving for generations the essence of what it meant to have been an educator or employed, in this large public school system during the second half of the 20th century. Brentwood remains an exemplar to all others; a diverse microcosm of America reflecting 124 districts on Long Island while simultaneously resembling thousands across the U.S. We’ve accomplished something here to be proud of. Whether we were interviewed or not, ours is a claim of service that few professionals in the State of New York or elsewhere have positioned themselves to share in the way we have.
     INITIALLY the practice of sitting with a subject for an hour and giving them a hundred percent focused attention seemed somewhat daunting to a number of friends and colleagues. So much so in fact that many declined our repeated invitations to speak with us as they left careers or retired from full employment. Despite all assurances that we were not about investigative journalism or invading privacy, they deferred. Now, twenty years after we began, some are saying they may be ready. “Better late than never” we say. However, to all among you who were willing to share not only your classroom experiences and personal stories, but precious memories from your lives along with your fondest hopes for the future, we say “Thanks”. Thanks for allowing us to continue the process by paying it forward as we share these interviews with the Brentwood community and countless professionals and researchers near and far. Through an acceptance of ROBS offer of collaboration with Archivist Dr. Geri Solomon and The Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University our History Project lives on in academia as well as in the collection of the Brentwood Public Library, thanks to Director, Thomas A. Tarantowicz.
   Enjoy unlimited visits to www.robsny.org where you can watch and listen to segments from featured Interviews in the ROBS History Project Section on our Announcements Page each month. Return here to listen and learn again and again.


Harriet Helman
English and Reading Teacher

     Our interview commenced as scheduled on Thurs, Dec 22, 2005 and we quickly learned that Harriet was born in Manhattan on Dec 12, 1942, into an extended family of Russian Jewish émigrés. Her parents lived at the time in Brooklyn in the vicinity of Kings County Hospital. Shortly thereafter they moved to Hartford, Conn. as Harriet approached kindergarten age. Her nickname was Hi (like Chai) The family move to CT was the first of twelve moves they made over time due mainly to her father’s job working for the Holland Furnace Company. She has vivid memories of the end of WW II.
     The oldest of three, Harriet has a sister Sue and a brother Steve. Both pursued careers in the field of education. Additionally, she was surrounded by lawyers.  Eugene Rostow and brother Walter Rostow were her first cousins. They’d been advisors to Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.  Her uncle, Philip Handsman had been the lawyer for Desilou Studios, the Charms Candy Co., and Van Heusen Shirts. Her cousin Walt was personally involved in the planned bombing of Dresden during WWII as a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
     She still has an extended family of cousins spread across the United States. One of Harriet’s goals was to come to learn as much about her family as possible during retirement.
     Following a family tradition of political activism, Harriet became a campaign worker for Senator Hubert Humphrey during her youth until her cousin Walt started working for presidential candidate, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
     Her parents were committed Democratic Party activists. Their passions extended to baseball and football and served to pave the road for establishing Harriet’s own passion for sports in her life.
     She attended many different schools over time in many locations. There were two teachers in particular she remembered having had. Miss Vale was her 4th grade teacher who was a nurturing and kind young first year teacher. She recalled, also, the trauma of being chosen to participate in a 3rd grade class play. Although she protested strongly at that time, her teacher pushed against Harriet’s reticence and threatened her saying if she didn’t do this now she would never finish anything for the rest of your life and would probably never amount to anything.  It was an experience that changed her forever, and created a grown woman who would never give up. 
     Several of the toughest decisions she ever had to make were (1) coming to Brentwood, (2) a decision to leave her husband and (3) the decision to retire. Harriet had come to Brentwood in 1980. Her 1st paying job was for an Insurance company where she was a clerk typist. She moved to West Islip where she took a job in the Junior High as a guidance secretary and remained there for 18 years until her Administrator, knowing about her dream to become a teacher, insisted she leave to follow that dream. She did.
     Hers was the first divorce in her extended family. However, she might never have become a teacher had she not taken the huge risk of leaving her marriage, job, and home. Her student teaching from Dowling was done at Night School in Brentwood. Mike Welsh interviewed her for the position. Ray Therrian and Ed Hannan were her cooperating teachers. Tom Campi heard her teaching from across the hall and offered her a job. She taught English for seven years until excessing became an issue at which point she became a Reading Consultant in Ross. She worked for a total of 44 years, 25 of which were in Brentwood. She went to work on her 18th birthday.
     She decided to retire at sixty-two years old, which was also the time of the interview.  She spoke of how much energy was required of an effective teacher. She loved working in Brentwood, and was proud of her classroom accomplishments. She left with a Masters degree in Reading and English plus 60 credits. A lasting impression of Brentwood was made by Tony Felicio who saw all ,of the district as an extended family and never stopped watching over it. Ann Primavera, Charlie DiGiovanni, Joyce Pitenaro, and Denis Bracco  were mentors and life-long friends.     
    What would she change? She wishes she had become a teacher sooner. Her heroes were Jackie Robinson and Hubert Humphrey. Nine-eleven made a huge impression on her. What will she miss the most? The people.
     She saw her purpose as making each student know they were safe. Her mission was to get them successfully through whatever they faced.  Participation in the teachers union was very important to her due largely to her early working relationships (in West Islip) with Joan Perrini and John Fagan. Other mentors were Mike Welsh, Mike Fasulo, Les Black, Guy DiPietro. Harriet spoke in glowing terms of the new teachers whom she highly respected. Before leaving Brentwood she established a Grammar Folder and taught an In-service Course in Grammar.
     What would she change? Eliminate NCLB, provide more funding for ESL and Special Education. Institute smaller class sizes. She saw Brentwood teachers as being extremely warm and accepting of their students. She saw Brentwood students as being a “loveable challenge” Her final piece of advice to those coming after her was this: Give students the background information they frequently lack,for grasping understanding of various educational themes.


You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives :
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Baker Bazata, Eleanor
Balinski, Wally
Brooks, Ronda
Carey, Dick
Carpenter, Beverly
Cerullo, Peter
Corkery, Florence
Cuneen, Ray
Curio, Rich
DeBellis, Claudia
DeBellis, Helen
DeBellis, Michael
DePlaza, Marilyn
Desoto, Edward
DiMento, Peter
Edwards, Richard
Efron, Martin
Fasullo, Mike
Felicio, Anthony
Filosa, Edith
Fiore, Marcy
Hannan, Edward
Helman, Harriet
Hodges, Shirley
Kirschner, Marge
Koehler, Florence
Lane, William
Lange, Joan
Laub, Dr. Herb
Martz, David
Mascaro, Barbara
McNicholas, Barbara
Monsen, Pattie
Moss, Ken
Mundy, Rick
Murray, Alma
Nanos, Jim
O'Conner, Thomas
Pace, Ron
Purcell, Joseph
Rosenthal, Ivy
Rosenthal, Ruth
Salerno, Hank
Scharf, Karen
Sekac, Evelyn
Sheele, Raymond
Sopp, Lorraine
Spencer, Franklin
Stuhler, Patricia
Sustrin, Letty and Sheila
Vannoy, Evelyn
Veech, Chris
Walker Lloyd, Shirley
Wolfe, Jeffrey
Zuckerman, Dorothy
Zuckerman, Jack

June 7
Executive Board Meeting

June 23
Awards Luncheon

RC 21 Website:
Sheila & Letty Sustrin
Children's Books Authors

John M. Sherin
Local /Regional
(Jigsaw Maps)600
Geography Manipulatives


Complete Team Building Kits
Teaching Cooperation/ Collaboration
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


Alida Thorpe
Island Vision Photography, Inc.

Rick Mundy
Watercolor Prints of L.I., Adirondacks, NYC...

Gloria Hannemann
Hardwood Flooring and
Home Improvement


Elmon Kazandjian
NYC Art Gallery

Rose Marie Brousseau
Brentwood Rotary Club

Ronda Brooks
Children's Social Skills Groups
Rich Graziano
Mr. Graziano's Science Class
Academic Enrichment and Remedial Websit


    Classified Section
THE TOWN CRIER -  MarilynDePlaza@aol.com

Marilyn De Plaza
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.

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