*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
IMPORTANT DATES   IN THE NEWS                                                                        JUNE 2017
June 2
End Year Luncheon

Events Calendar

June 22

Executive Board Meeting

Meeting Dates

POSTED 6-1-17
By Nick Siciliano, ROBS President

     As you are aware, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of ROBS last year. The question is: Will this organization last well into the future? If you believe that this organization is worthwhile to our retirees, you must step forward and get involved in ROBS. I am sure a number of you have questions about our organization and how we can preserve our longevity. You can do this in a number of ways:
a) run for an office
b) volunteer for a committee
c) support our programs
d) when called upon by RC 21 and NYSUT to support teacher and retiree issues, be sure to do so
e) encourage those retirees who are not members of ROBS to join our organization

POSTED 6/2/17
     Vivian Kemp, a Special Services teacher in Brentwood for many decades, passed away on May 31 in the healthcare facility. Vivien had been hospitalized since late Fall with repeated strokes.
     Condolences can be sent to her brother, Steve Kemp at 26 Danielle Drive, Topsham, Maine 04086. Arrangements are being finalized.

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.
NYSUT Website

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 2017 Holidays, Bizarre, Unique, Special Days
Bizarre and Unique Holidays in June
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. W
e 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.


Ruth Elizabeth McCalla
Elementary - ESL Teacher
Interview Aug 17, 1998

     Ruth Elizabeth Thomas was born in New York City on July 8, 1933 in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx. She was a middle child; one of nine siblings, and had four brothers and four sisters. They lived happily together in a two family house in Williamsbridge when it was still country. She spoke with us of her own four children. Kim, the oldest who was single and Head Civil Engineer in Maryland responsible for Camden Yards and the Convention Center. Ruth, her second child, is married with 2 children a girl and a boy (Niky and Michael) is a Veterinarian, Christopher her third, is a pilot with United Airlines and has two boys; 10 and 7. Richard her 4th is a successful General Contractor in Patchogue.
      Several of her siblings became professionals and others did well in business. Her oldest sister married a doctor and moved to Tennessee after graduating from Hunter college, where she studied funeral directing. Her second sister went to NYU to become a social worker, and married a State Dept attaché. Her two brothers went into the service during World War II. The older of the two became a funeral director after leaving the service, and the other brother opened his own meat packing business. He died of a heart attack as a result of stress experienced as an African American in that business, one of only a few in that industry at the time. Her other sister obtained a degree in library science to become a librarian. Another brother went into business for himself and worked for the city of New York as an ambulance driver. Her youngest brother became a police officer for over 20 yrs. The youngest of her sisters went into social work and became the Regional Director in Virginia of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
     Ruth had great memories of growing up as part of a close loving family. They never argued, never fought. While living in NYC she would look forward to spending her summers on the farm in Maryland where her grandmother lived. There was a stream there in which all the kids would go swimming She learned from experience how much she did not enjoy picking beans. It was hard work. Christmases were always a big thing in her family. She remembers riding in her father’s nine passenger automobile and traveling squeezed closely together. She beamed as she spoke of their childhood during which time they did everything imaginable together. They never seemed to need friends because they always had one another and were always together.

 She remains interested in genealogy, though as an African American woman knows it has been difficult to trace family. Her mother’s mother was the product of a property owner and to this day all the colorations of the human family face can be found in her own immediate family. Her mother never yelled and was a stay-at-home mom, and she remembers her daddy in a shirt and tie and working all the time. He was a graduate of Cornell and studied Chemistry and Biology and worked at Tuskegee. Her paternal grandmother was a believer in education and was determined that her son graduate from college. Ruth is proud of her African American heritage and has been the grateful recipient of respected family traditions that have been passed to family through the generations. She was sent to Cathedral Catholic girls High School by her mother and attended college for nursing at the New Rochelle campus of Hunter College. She made the switch to education after three years and graduated in 1955. She was recruited by North Babylon High School for her first teaching position where she earned $5,000, taught for three years and learned just how much she enjoyed it. However, when she was told she’d have to sign a contract saying she agreed not to have any more children – it was the end of her career. Her husband was Irwin (Mac) McCalla. It was in the early sixties that their home became 100 Columbus Ave., Central Islip. It was where they had lived for thirty eight years at the time of the interview. Mac left Grumman as a Vice 3 President after thirty years as an engineer in a field to which he’d been devoted for 41 years. He and Ruth were opposites in some ways. He’d been brought up as an only child, and was different in that he was quiet and something of a perfectionist. His father’s side of the family included Indians from Guatemala.        
      She described herself as being a good kid when she was in school and was always close to her mother who graduated from Morgan had a beautiful voice and loved singing in Church. She was also into theatre. Ruth’s mom was chosen National Catholic mother of the year in 1952,
      Once when she was given permission to choose the colors of her room, Ruth chose fuchsia and painted her furniture black. Like many other kids she had chores. One of her first paying jobs was as a sales clerk at B. Altman’s down town. She had an interest in sports like handball and played all the street games that today’s generation has likely never even heard of; red rover, hide and seek, tag, etc.
      She said her mother and father’s friends had a significant influence on her growing up. Many were influential doctors and lawyers. Both her parents were Roman Catholic. Her father who was quite active, was close friends with Fr. John La Farge, a famous Jesuit and painter whose brother worked with Tiffany. The two collaborated to cofound the New York Chapter of The National Conference of Christians and Jews. Fr. LaFarge was a frequent guest of her father at Sunday family dinners and spoke with the kids as if a friend. Her father had received awards from the Pope and Cardinals, and was involved with the Bronx Grand Jury and the Harlem Branch of the YMCA for more than 30 years. Her parents and their friends were avid bridge players, a game Ruth enjoys today.      It was safe in those days for kids to travel all over the city by means of public transportation which she did regularly. She liked the Fall and Spring seasons best, although she had great memories of winter; building forts in 4 the snow and taking amazing sleigh rides. She always enjoyed being tall and never let it take away from enjoying her life. Once when she got lost while attending PS 78 and couldn’t find her way back to the Kindergarten class she was sent to 3rd Grade because of her height. She was chosen to be Captain of the Crossing Guards probably because of her size and that was a very big deal.
    She started her Graduate Studies in 1960 at CW Post. She was living In Central Islip at that time and by the very end of her course work it became convenient to attend classes at St Joseph’s and the Greenvale campus. Coming from a nursing background, science had always been her preference. History was not her favorite. She applied for and got a job substitute teaching for Physical Education in Brentwood and after three years applied for State Certification. Herb Fishman, Principal at Pine Park interviewed her. She taught 2nd Grade for a couple of years until she was bumped up to 4th Grade for several more. It was then that the district began to lay off teachers each year. Every June, the question would be ‘What letter did you get, the white one, the pink one, the green one or the “doom” letter? Since she had Phys. Ed Certification she was always the first to be called back. She had to take twelve credits over the summer to teach ESL. She found she loved it. She taught from Kindergarten to sixth grade, two sessions, morning and afternoon. Brentwood in those years did not have a Kindergarten curriculum. When asked what her purpose was she said it was to touch one or two children every year and make a difference in their lives. Without a shadow of a doubt that is exactly what Ruth did. It was very difficult to teach ESL according to Ruth, because there were always such high expectations- surrounding it.

Ruth McCalla
     These days Ruth stays in contact with only a few former colleagues. She was formerly active with BTA as a delegate from North East Elementary from which she retired in 1991. She was involved at the State level with ESL and was a Tier person for the L.I. Zone for which she hosted 5 a convention in Brentwood. She was with the Delta Kappa Gamma Honorary teacher’s organization and active on the State level. She believes unions are still necessary and feels the same way about them she did early on. Dot Zuckerman made a big impression on her. Ruth admired her and her command of issues that mattered.
     She had aimed for 30 years of service until she had but three years remaining. When the State incentive gave her those three years she made up her mind in short order that this was the time to go - and because she had taken Dot Zuckerman’s course called Ready or Not several years earlier, she was prepared to move on. When we spoke It was already the 7th year of her retirement. By 1998 she had become very Involved in her Church with ministries, and with a group called Catholics of African ancestry. She is an advocate for single mothers and has energized existing reading programs. She has completed her Masters in Counseling and has met and spoken with many notable African Americans who she met through her parents. Among them were people she told us about, Marian Anderson, Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall. She was enjoying her grandchildren by reading to them and talking with them. As far as work was concerned, she didn’t miss anything. At one time she thought about going into Administration but decided against it preferring to do what she did – listening to kids, absorbing and observing what they gave her and continuing to learn from them by staying in tune with their feelings and her own. She loves listening to them talk. Since both her mother and sister died from cancer, she wore arm bands in their memory and once a month donated blood platelets to the Blood Bank. As we concluded our time together she reminded me she was looking for a replacement for her role as Program Director with the Retirees of Brentwood Schools (ROBS) and asked anyone who might be interested to reply to her.   

You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives :
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Baker Bazata, Eleanor
Balinski, Wally
Baumann, Phyllis
Brooks, Ronda
Carey, Dick
Carpenter, Beverly
Castano, Cheryl
Cerullo, Peter
Corkery, Florence
Corkery, Kate
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
Fornwald, Calvin
Goehring, Chuck
Hannan, Edward
Helman, Harriet
Hodges, Shirley
Kazandjian, Elmon
Kirschner, Marge
Koehler, Florence
Lane, William
Lange, Joan
Laub, Dr. Herb
LeBron, Bernard
Martz, David
Mascaro, Barbara
McNicholas, Barbara
McNicholas, Kevin
Monsen, Pattie
Moss, Ken
Mundy, Rick
Murray, Alma
Nanos, Jim
O'Conner, Thomas
Pace, Ron
Pepine, Harriet
Purcell, Joseph
Rosenthal, Ivy
Rosenthal, Ruth
Salerno, Hank
Scharf, Karen
Sekac, Evelyn
Sheele, Raymond
Silverman, Anita
Sopp, Lorraine
Spencer, Franklin
Stuhler, Patricia
Sustrin, Letty and Sheila
Vannoy, Evelyn
Veech, Chris
Walker Lloyd, Shirley
Wharton, Mercedes
Williams-Ging, Kathleen
Wolfe, Jeffrey
Zuckerman, Dorothy
Zuckerman, Jack   

View May 8, 2015 History Project Celebration Photo Album

View History Project Slide Show on YouTube

June 13
Awards Luncheon

RC 21 Website: http://rc21.ny.aft.org

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 Website

              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.