*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                                                                        MARCH 2018
March 2
ROBS General Meeting

March 22
Executive Board Meeting

Meeting Dates
Events Schedule

POSTED 3/1/18
     Our first General Meeting of the year will be held on Friday, March 2nd at 10AM at the Brentwood Library. It is also that time of year when we are collecting donations for our annual Scholarship Fund. If you would like to contribute (any amount is greatly appreciated) make out your check to ROBS and on the MEMO line write Scholarship. Hope to see you at our General Meeting.

POSTED 3/11/18

     The following is an email we received from a former Brentwood graduate. It is always so rewarding to hear from our former students:
      I personally have been looking for two retirees that changed my life and this is how I stumbled across your website. It would be awesome if you could add the ability to send a retiree a message of thanks, or post a message of thanks to the people whom helped mold us into the individuals we are today. I think it would truly brighten up their days...
Christine S. Littmann
     PS. I was looking for Mr. Lloyd from south middle the most, he truly changed my life. Then Mr. Fritz from the high school, he invested in me unlike any other teacher. Just putting it out there...

     If anyone can help her contact either of these teachers her email address is chrissy143831@gmail.com.

POSTED 3/26/18
     Ronald Nanos, the brother of Jim Nanos, retired North Middle School science teacher, passed away on Saturday March 24th.
Visitation: Thursday, March 29, 2018
                       2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
                       7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Charles J. O'Shea Funeral Homes
2515 N. Jerusalem Rd.
East Meadow, NY
     In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made in Ronald's memory to donate4.cancer.org

O'Shea Funeral Homes

POSTED 3/1/18
     Marie Lewis Guilfu, South Middle School Assistant Principal and sister in law of Sonderling Librarian, Sue Lewis, passed away Tuesday morning. Marie was formerly an English teacher for many years in the Ross Center, and a valued member of our high school family. Marie is survived by her Husband Jose, Son, Christian and Daughter Maya. Please keep Marie's family in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with this tragic loss.
Tuesday March 6, 2018
2:00 -4:00 pm, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Donohue Cesere Funeral Home
290 Post Ave
Westbury NY 11590
Funeral Service:
Wednesday March 7, 2018
10 am Church of the Advent
555 Advent St
Westbury NY 11590
Interment Following the Funeral Service: Pinelawn Cemetery
2030 Wellwood Ave, Farmingdale NY 11735
Condolences may be sent to
Jose Guilfu
30 Hunters Lane
Westbury NY 11590

POSTED 3/21/18
     The following article appeared in the Brentwood Patch on March 20, 2018:
Brentwood Property To Be Considered For Historic Registry - By Priscilla Korb
     The 120-year-old property is among 20 New York properties, resources and districts recommended to be added to the national registry. Read more..............
POSTED 3/28/18

   The husband of Donna Shannon, retired Freshman Center nurse, passed away early this morning. We have no details as to funeral arrangements at this time. Condolences can be sent to Donna at 186 Claywood Dr., Brentwood, NY 11717.

POSTED 3/19/18

Click on photo to enlarge
     ROBS received a letter from Dr. Elsburgh Clarke, a practicing Emergency Medicine Physician, who graduated from Brentwood High School in 1967. His mother, Janiece Clarke, was a Northeast Elementary School Teacher for 29 years. She is 97 years old and currently lives in Orlando Florida.

Click on photo to enlarge
    Elsburgh wanted to send a "shout out" to some of the teachers who impacted his life and to thank all of his former teachers for the wonderful education he received.
     Please click here to read Elsburgh's letter.

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March 13
Executive Board Meeting

March 20
General Meeting

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

Check out the Famous People and Events on that special day in March see what else happened! Historical People and Events for March March 2018 Holidays, Bizarre, Unique, Special Days
Bizarre and Unique Holidays in March
All About March
March 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.


Les Black
February 28, 2007
    If his first name came from his mother’s (Schwartz) side of the family, then according to Les himself, Leslie has been “the bane of my existence.” At the time of our conversation his family consisted of a sister, niece and nephew who are spread out along Florida’s East Coast. His sister, three years his senior, once taught Special Education in Brentwood. She retired in 2005 when she, her husband and children moved South. Les has no children, was married and divorced and has been living in a condo in Manorville for the last three years prior to which he called Smithtown and Port Jefferson home.
   He was born in 1945 and was anticipating reaching fifty-two years by his birthday in June of 2007. Born in NYC in the borough of the Bronx, he spent his early years till he was about eight in Yonkers when his family moved to Long Island. They settled in Massapequa where he attended high school until graduating from Plainedge when he left home to attend Cortland State. He married prior to the senior year and returned with his wife to Long Island where they both began teaching in Brentwood in 1967.
   His father’s parents had been immigrants from Hungary and Russia. His mother’s parents were born here. His mother and her mother were great cooks. He remembered the delicious aroma of Hungarian biscuits being baked in their home oven every few weeks. He couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into them. His mother died young when he was just a senior in high school. Today he is left only with the memory of those biscuit aromas. His mother had successful surgery to remove a brain tumor which proved to be benign but immediately afterward fell into a coma and died. She was 42. His father, he remembered, was seldom around. He worked long hours in the business he started and owned in Manhattan manufacturing commercial furniture with two partners. It grew to become quite successful. Soon they were making furniture for all the new Chinese restaurants that opened in NYC. Nassau and Suffolk. Once they made a new contact, word would spread among that community and before long they were doing them all. His father was responsible for all the sales. They went to all the new openings which Less found to be interesting. His father passed away very soon after he remarried. Les was up at college at the time. His father was seventy three years of age. When he was much younger he’d received a scholarship to CCNY back in the twenties or thirties. He dropped out in his sophomore year to go to work and never went back to college.
     Those of us who knew him remember Les as a survivor. How many knew that in addition to winning his battle with pancreatic cancer he’d beaten infantile paralysis known back then as poliomyelitis. It was prior to the discovery of the vaccine by Jonas Salk whose name it carries still. Though never hospitalized he was treated at home by loved ones and by the doctor and nurse who visited him every day to administer gamma globulin injections and assist with warm baths and extensive physical therapy. Miraculously, he regained his full health but lost months of attendance at school. He was spared common residual side effects of the infection which commonly attacked nerves in the muscles, brain and spinal column
    During the early years in Yonkers there had been a lot of extended family contact with aunts and uncles including what they called Family Circles when close to a dozen cousins attended regular monthly picnics in Van Cortland Park. Then, with the passage of time and the inexorable move to suburbia of that generation, family members lost contact. His mother’s parents lived with him and his family for several years when Les moved with them to Long Island. His grandmother had had both legs amputated due to diabetes. Though confined to a wheelchair he remembered her as being one of the kindest most gracious, people he had ever known. His grandfather drove a pie truck and delivered pies. He was a character who stood all of about 5 ft 3 inches and was a real spark plug who was full of energy, life and with a wonderful sense of humor. He cared deeply for Les’s grandmother and as role models they were phenomenal people as they were also a great influence on Les’s life during his growing years.


   His father was more responsible for him becoming an educator than anyone else in the family. Recalling how he had dropped out of his own college opportunity, it was imperative to him that Les not miss his own chance to matriculate. There had never been any question about higher education being part of his path. During his freshman year he came home from college during Thanksgiving break and ran into a few former high school buddies at the local mall who upon seeing him asked, “Hey, where you been?”. They had never been college bound. Les always was.
     Other unforgettable adult influences included a high school Social Studies teacher from his second year whose name was Bill Clark. Les said he was. “a phenomenal guy who put up with no nonsense either from him or his classmates.” He was admired as much for his professional demeanor and strength of character as he was for his commitment to Social Studies. Les was athletic and competed in a number of sports but when the football coach came to his home to recruit him by winning over his parents, they were having none of it, according to Les, “because they were Jewish.”
    His first paying job was delivering papers; first the Long Island Daily Press and then Newsday. He worked throughout high school as an usher in the local movie theatre where he saw every movie that came out.
     Growing up with his mother at home in what was described as a religious household, (his father was not particularly devout), stopped abruptly when she died and Les began to feel a degree of anger at religion and with God over her death, specifically in the way she died. Math and Social Studies were his favorite subjects in school. From the age of four his life was about bats and balls. Spring and baseball were his favorite seasons. He still favors Spring, but golf has replaced baseball as a passion.   
   His education began in Yonkers at PS 5. He next attended East Plain Elementary in North Massapequa, (also known as Matzah Pizza because if you lived there you were either Italian or Jewish) until construction of Charles E. Schwarting was completed. South Edge Junior High was next and then Plainedge High. That was where he had German 6th Period right after lunch where he remembered a teacher yelling out the window to him after 5th period to get back in school, because he was supposed to be in class. His Dean of Discipline was Dean Hendersen who wrote in his yearbook, “Dear Les, Nice to see you in school today”. Pointing to the irony of having chosen education as a path in his life he recognized full well that it was not without purpose, for as Superintendent he never measured the potential success of any candidate for a position by the degree of their performance in undergraduate classes. He always looked first to see how they related to students in their charge by the manner in which they had navigated the shoals of their own adolescent challenges.
   Les followed high school with four years at Cortland State. Between his Sophomore and Junior years he began dating his future wife who was a year ahead of him. They got married in between his Junior and Senior years. She had already graduated and had a job teaching upstate so that they could be together. He became a commuter his senior year between Binghamton (where she lived), and Cortland in a variety of cars that inevitably broke down somewhere between both places. From his junior year through his senior year and a variety of graduate schools, he became a more serious student, which he credited to becoming more mature in the choices he was making. His first Masters was from CW Post in Education. His 2nd Masters was in Labor Relations from Pace University. His Professional diploma in Administration was from NYU. In 1984 he became a Principal at Pine Park and was still seriously contemplating pursuing a doctorate degree. Prior to Brentwood he had taken many hours of courses through the Cornell Extension. During one of them he met an inspiring professor who took a liking to him and offered him a full ride at Washington University in DC. He thought seriously about accepting it but that would have taken him from Brentwood. He decided against it and never looked back. At a Staff Development Day the year before he retired, the fact of having 1,300 teachers honor him by a prolonged standing ovation remains as the single most convincing piece of evidence that he made the right decision to remain where he was.
   He came to Brentwood in 1967. They always knew they would come back to Long Island. They had come down during his senior year and had interviews scheduled on a Friday and Saturday for both he and his wife. They interviewed in six different school districts. She got offers in five, he got offers in five. Her area was Elementary Education. The reason they both didn’t get the sixth was because two of the districts didn’t offer positions to a husband and wife. He was chosen in one and she the other. They decided upon Brentwood not knowing a lot about the district but they liked the people there who interviewed them and the feeling they got there. Their prospective Principals were Jack Hoffman, Principal of Oak Park and Ralph Saikin, Principal at North Elementary who had interviewed Les. They were both offered jobs that very day. They both said yes and never regretted their decisions.
   In speaking of changes he witnessed over the years Les referenced “white flight” as the demographics became more diverse in the last ten to fifteen years. He remembered Elizabeth Matsen who was a GIS ‘Godsend’ teaching him and other new staff hires how to teach reading and set up reading groups. There was Phil Ache’, who was an institution on the grade level at North Elementary. Maddy Dwyer was instrumental in helping him when he arrived as a painfully shy, almost withdrawn person - to become able to address large groups of teachers as painful and difficult as that was for him in the beginning. In his 2nd year Maddy convinced Les to become a union delegate and he found he enjoyed going to meetings and using it as an outlet. While a delegate he worked under the radar. After he was given tenure and became a bit more active, he was more vocal and no longer the fair haired boy to Administrators in the building. He became someone they should keep an eye on. He got involved in grievances and began serving as Grievance Chair. He went to Negotiations where, in terms of personal intellectual growth, it opened avenues for him. He got to work with and develop lifelong friendships with people outside the building. He found it fascinating to get involved with problem solving through the grievance machinery. That was how he met Guy DiPietro for the first time. It was he who probably had more influence as an Administrator on Les than any other person he’s known. They developed great mutual respect working on grievances and across the negotiation table. Every so often Guy would say to him, “Why don’t you go and get your administrative degree?” For six or seven years Les would regularly reply, “because I don’t want to become an Administrator. But there came a time when the classroom started to close in on him. He requested and received one of the last Sabbaticals the district offered. That was the year he got his degree in Labor Relations. After that he realized he could never return to the classroom again. It was around 1982. He ran for President of the BTA got his Administrative degree and became Principal of Pine Park for a year. Then he went to Central Administration in 1984-85.

Les Black
   January of 1984 he moved to Central Administration as Coordinator of Labor Relations after the position was created. Guy DiPietro passed away that February. “We had maybe six weeks to work together”…….which he regretted to the very end. “He probably was the most street smart person I’d ever met”, he said. I certainly had met other people who were his intellectual equals, but his instincts, his toughness, his insight, his compassion - he was one of a kind. I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn from him and get to know him, but tremendously disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to work with him”. When Guy died Frank Mauro became Superintendent. Les hadn’t known Frank except through Guy. They developed a fine working relationship but it was about three years before the position of Director of Elementary Education became available and Les was moved to that role. A couple of years later he became Associate Superintendent and when Frank Mauro retired, (2004 or 2005) Les became Superintendent.
    We asked how he saw his purpose throughout his tenure given the many positions and responsibilities he was asked to fill. Not wanting to sound trite, he said “everything we did was to educate kids to make their lives better and whatever he could do to facilitate that was the purpose I had.” There was never a master plan, he said, as evidenced by the fact that it wasn’t until the mid eighties that he even wanted to be an Administrator. He saw himself being one of the staff, regardless of the position he held. He believed that not losing sight of that enabled him to make better decisions that were ultimately for the betterment of the kids. Too many times, he said “people come in with an agenda and with the agenda is …(He digressed), There’s so much good that goes on in every classroom in that district that to think you have the panacea that is going to change everything is nonsense. Let people do their job. A system exists. Don’t tell them what to do; don’t micro-manage. There’s very little that’s new in education. You need free thinkers; people who are creative and who are willing to do things differently. To his credit that is exactly what he really believed.
    He served in public education for thirty nine years and all of them in Brentwood. Since retirement he was traveling and enjoying playing golf. What did he imagine doing within the next five years that he may have thought about? Upon retirement from active service the only thing he promised himself was that he would do nothing for the first year. He wanted time to “chill out” to do what he wanted for as long as he wanted. He was about five months from the end of that first year. He had received several offers to get involved in businesses having nothing to do with education. the usual things that Superintendents do, like consulting, interim work etc. What he loved to do and would enjoy doing again would have to do with mentoring and working with some of the best people he could possibly imagine, Mike Fasullo, Christie Tedaldi, Mark Nizewitz, Scott Hartman – people who are too good for words. He missed them but would consider working with people like them. Yes, there were things he would like to have accomplished and couldn’t because he didn’t have time. “but how he asked, could anyone possibly accomplish everything? It was a fabulous time. We’ve talked about a lot of people but the one person we haven’t mentioned we’d be remiss if we didn’t name - He was the glue that kept everything together. Tony Felicio understood the role of the Board of Education His heart and head were always “children first”, What can we do to improve things?, A lot of school districts have an us and them mentality - us being the teachers them being Administrators – and then the school board is somewhere else. Tony’s philosophy was all inclusive; students, teachers, administrators, aides, building and grounds, we’re under one umbrella we’re under one roof. We’re one family. So thankful I was able to work in that kind of environment for as long as I did.
    His favorite year was 1967 – his first year teaching. He wanted to be remembered by the people with whom he worked, and remembered well, by them. He hoped they would say “He supported us, we worked well with him, about the things he’d accomplished – bonds passed, starting full day kindergarten, the audit we had where we came out clean, so many accomplishments that all pale when compared with the interaction with the people you work with, classroom teachers, clerical staff, administrators and their attitude toward the time we were together” His footnote was to add only -. Brentwood’s kids are fantastic, Brentwood teachers are beyond belief – the best.  

Announcement to all district schools on the passing of Les Black Brentwood educator and Superintendent from the current Superintendent, Richard Loeschner:
   Last night the Brentwood Community lost one of its treasures, Les Black passed away Thursday, February 1, 2018. Les began his career as an Elementary School Teacher at North in 1967. Les served as Vice President and President of the BTA, Principal at Pine Park, Director of Elementary Education, Associate Superintendent and finally Superintendent from 1994 until he retired in 2006. For those of us who were fortunate to work for him we will always remember his sense of humor, gentleness, and his ability to make everyone feel special but most importantly he was a fierce advocate for Brentwood kids and schools. He deeply loved this community and his positive impact and imprint will never be forgotten. There is one more thing; the multiple standing ovations and the long, long applause you gave him this past September meant a great deal to him and moved him deeply.

    You can also view any of the past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives

View May 8, 2015 History Project Celebration Photo Album

View History Project Slide Show on YouTube

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