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             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
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  IN THE NEWS                                                              SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2011
Sept 9
General Membership Meeting
Welcome New Retirees
10:00 AM

Sept 21
ROBS 20th Anniversary Celebration
High Tea at Hidden Oaks

October 7
General Membership Meeting

November 4
General Membership Meeting
ROBS 20th Anniversary

For more information:
Meeting Date Schedule

Calendar of Events

By Harriet Helman and Judi Hearst Weissman
POSTED 9/21/11

     For a certain group of Brentwood High School teachers and staff, this year’s first day of school was a unique one. On Wednesday, September 7, 2011, over 100 Brentwood High School retirees gathered at La Casa Café on the water in Northport, NY. This ‘first annual’ reunion was a sure hit and a wonderful and memorable afternoon. The excitement of seeing former colleagues, many of whom had not connected in years or even decades, made for an afternoon full of laughter and catching up on one another’s lives.
     The reunion began as the seedling of an idea while having one of our regular lunch dates with Chris Veech. We spoke, as we had many times before, about how nice it would be to somehow get all of our colleagues together. This time, we decided to forge ahead to see if we could possibly make it happen.  Thus began four months of planning and working hard to make this idea a reality.
      It was difficult to predict how a reunion such as this would play itself out. To our great pleasure, every aspect of the reunion exceeded our highest expectations. As people came through the doorway of the restaurant, the conversations and excitement began immediately. As we handed out B.H.S. Reunion lanyards and I.D. badges, it was amazing to see all of the hugging and warmth as people rekindled old friendships.
   We had put so much of ourselves into the planning and were overjoyed that it actually became the happy occasion we first envisioned back in April. The many years that had passed easily disappeared and the camaraderie that marked our years at Brentwood High School was clearly in evidence throughout the day. The joy in the room was so real it was palpable in the pictures we took.  For those of you who might want to see the photographs of the reunion, they are available as a slideshow with music on YouTube. You can view them at this site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcI1gTPG-jw
     We are already looking forward to a bigger and better event next year, also planned for the first day of school – September 5, 2012. The notes of appreciation we received from so many attendees and their expressed desire to make this an annual event have us already thinking of ways to make next year’s reunion equally memorable.  If you are a Brentwood High School retiree and would like to be on our contact list, please email Harriet at Ainthair2@aol.com or Judi at judihope18@aol.com. We will add your contact information to our lists and keep you apprised of future events.
     Thanks to all for making this reunion a spectacular and happy gathering!
     You can also view the photos on the Photo Galery Page on this site or go directly to the photo album by clicking here.

     If you are not registered to vote in New York State elections, we urge you to do so now. You can download the New York State Voter Registration Form and instruction sheet here. You can also use this form to change the name or address on your voter registration if you are all ready registered. The form can also be used to become a member of a political party or change your party membership. You can get further information and find tools at www.elections.state.ny.us.

POSTED 9/12/11
     Joe Carson (Elementary/Music) passed away on 8/6/11. There will be a memorial service for him at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.  Plymouth Church is located at 75 Hicks Street (between Cranberry and Orange Streets)in Brooklyn. A reception will follow. There was no information about family.

POSTED 9/14/11
     Jacqueline Hartman (Business/HS) passed away on 9/2/11. Sympathy cards may be sent to her daughter:
Rosemary Hartman,
535 West 110 Street - Apt 15D,
New York, New York 10025-2065

POSTED 10/15/11
     Claudia De Bellis and Charles Di Giovanni's son, Frank DiGiovanni, is  marrying his beloved, Jennifer Evarts, on October 22, 2011 at the Sayville  Congregational United Church of Christ at 1:00pm (131 Middle Road in  Sayville Village). We'd love to see old friends at the church.

View the "In Memoriam" page with the list of our Brentwood colleagues who have passed away.

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

Check out Member Benefits

November 9
NYSUT's Anual Retiree Conference


September 27
General Membership Meeting

October 5
Yale University & Lockwood
Matthews Mansion Museum & Campus Lunch

October 25
Welcome Brunch

RC 21 Website: http://ny.aft.org/rc21
By Jack Zuckerman
We had finally crossed into Vermont. The trip would be remembered as one more passage from here to there on a concrete road that was relentlessly straight, kept from drifting from left to right by the columns of trees that opened wide enough to allow the concrete to go through. The tall trees, bare below with leafless branches, reached out as if to beg for a few more days before the wind would become ice and put them to sleep again. But, on top the leaves were still clinging to the trees that had given them life, beautiful in their autumnal colors, supernovas of beauty in their last moments, before they too would give way to the winds of the north.
     We stopped at the sweater store as we always did when we came this way. Out of the car and enjoying the thin, clean air, we looked at each other and smiled; this is what we have come to Vermont for, this is the first minute of our vacation. All the memories have yet to be, all the stories not yet written. We went slowly to the entrance, stiff from lack of movement caused by the hours in the car.
     The building is typical Vermont. Wood frame, it is one large enclosed space that could have served equally well as the host of an American Legion dance or as a museum of native handicrafts. This building spoke loudly of its purpose, no mistake is possible here. The walls were hidden by the hundreds of sweaters, all tagged and arranged by style, color, fabric and fashion. A child's crayon drawing come to life, the choices were infinite. Stiffness forgotten, we moved from table to table.
     Arms loaded, we moved to the counter at the front of the store. The man behind the counter was tall, balding down the middle of his head, and personable. He was saying as he totaled the bill, "It's a shame that important government services had to be cut back. As a taxpayer I don't want to pay any more taxes, but the state police had been stretched thin enough and now, God knows, there aren't enough left to do the job at all." As he talked and rang up the numbers on his register he was interrupted by a woman's voice...
     "Please help me. Please help me."
     The voice was flat, soft and tinged lightly with hysteria. Her appearance matched her voice; she was undistinguished, slight, oldish without being elderly, brown clothing and white hair, and urgent. "I am lost. I left my daughter and she told me that all I had to do was to continue along this road and I would be home. I tried, but now I am not even sure I am going in the right direction."
     "Where do you live?"
     "In East Hanover, New Hampshire."
     "Well, don't worry. I'll go out side with you and show you the right direction."
     "I want to go home but I can't seem to find my way. I was visiting my daughter and then it was time to leave and now," her voice was rising, "I can't find my way."
     "Where does your daughter live?"
     "She lives over there," she pointed vaguely, "but I am not sure I remember the name of the town. I think it begins with the letter 'R'."
     "The store owner smiled and, with the assurance of the native-born, named every place that began with an 'R'". He asked her, "Any of those places familiar?"
     "No, I don't know, I don't think so, I don't know. I told her to give me clear directions but now I am all mixed up." She was now trembling, her hands the most visible indication of the panic that had embraced and overwhelmed her.
     The store owner tried again. "Why don't I just get you a chair and let you sit down? I'll call the police and maybe they'll be able to find your daughter."
     More agitated than ever she exploded, "Don't you think I tried the police? When I became all mixed up as I drove along, looking for the way to New Hampshire I saw the police station and I went in and told them that my daughter had given me faulty directions and I wanted them to show me the way home, and one said, 'Follow me.' and I tried to follow him but he drove so fast and in and out of the lanes so often, that I lost him. How can I follow him if he drives that way?"
     The store owner looked toward us. We stood at the counter mute, sharing the sense of helplessness that this woman generated. He asked,"What town does your daughter live in?"
     "I don't know. She really doesn't live here at all. She really lives in Spain. She is here on a vacation and I visited her. I don't know where. I want to go home but I don't know how."
     She appeared to be frail, the sort of fragility that comes with age. She had a fuzzy past and no future to rely upon, one sensed. She did have the consuming terror of a person alone with her nightmares. One wanted to help but there was no access, no connection. The wires were down.
     "I WANT TO GO HOME!", she said to the young state trooper who had just come through the door of the sweater shop.

     "Where were you, Mam?" he asked, looking at her closely. "I was trying to lead you to your home."
     "Just how was I supposed to keep up with you the way you were speeding. You were traveling fast and weaving in and out of the lanes. I can't keep up with you. I couldn't keep up with you," she said tearfully.
     A second trooper came into the store as the first told the store owner, "I wasn't traveling fast at all. I looked in the mirror and when I couldn't see her I came back to find her."
     "What are you going to do?"
     The second trooper asked if they took her with them might it be OK to leave her car parked in front of the store for the night. The store owner assured them that no one  would bother the car. The two troopers went to each side of the woman and, gently but firmly, escorted her out of the store.
     "It's been that kind of day," the store owner said, "Isn't that something? Two troopers are assigned to cover this district and both of them now are going to have to figure out what to do with her. We really need more men on the police force." He concluded his sentence at the same time as he finished our bill.
     We gave him the credit card, waited for a few seconds while VISA determined the quality of our credit status, signed the little paper produced by the cash register, said goodbye, and stepped out into the bright sunlight.
     The woman and the two troopers and their two squad cars were still outside; they hadn't entered their vehicles yet.
      We stepped to our car, opened the trunk, and put our packages inside. We opened the car itself and slid in. Our thoughts were still on the woman. Were the two troopers going to take her home across half the state into another state? Would she be able to recognize her home? Would her daughter, if there was a daughter, become aware other plight?
     We drove from the parking lot onto the highway. Now its was later into the day and the sun was flirting with the golden and red leaves. Their colors were to be memorized for no artist and no photographer would be able to make a perfect record of what lay before us. For this we had come and we were not to be denied.
     Resplendent Vermont lay before us, smiling.
      Our vacation had begun.

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


By John Sherin
     Ed Hannan, teacher of English and drama coach, who along with Cas Howard his theatrical collaborator, was a director of school plays before and after 1992 when Ed retired from the district, was known as a select member of a high performance team that was a beloved institution for a generation of students at Brentwood high school.
     Giving selflessly of his time and commitment to the district beyond that date, he also continued as a teacher of religion at St Luke’s Parish and as a contributor of prose and poetry to ROBS Writers Group resulting in five published hard cover volumes now part of the local history room collection in the Brentwood Library.

     Then came September 11, 2001 - a day that would alter reality. Ed and Jan’s lives would never be the same either because of Jan’s brother Stephen who sacrificed his life on that day saving others. Stephen (Stephen Siller) was the young fireman you’ll recall hearing about, who’s celebrated run through the tunnel to the towers and subsequent death gained national attention.
     Left behind that day were his wife, five children and a large extended family including Ed and Jan. Their decision, upon learning of Stephen’s death, to sell their Brentwood property and move back to Staten Island, was motivated by a need for closeness and provide family support at a time of grief and the healing to follow.
     As you click on the links and view the stories told here hold Ed and Jan in your thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks and years to come. They will always be members of our extended Brentwood family. Their connection to all of us – as Americans - cannot be understated.
     Thanks entirely to the gravity of Stephen’s story and the eloquent way his brothers Frank and George tell it, here’s a link to a page with both stories. Click on the picture of Stephen on the right for Part 1. For some reason,
Part 2 comes first.

Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Run Across America - YouTube Video

     Next Sunday, September 25, there is a walk/run in Stephen Siller's honor which is held every year. It is from Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to WTC. Some well known celebrities like Gary Sinese, Dennis Miller and John Turturro, among others, will be participating.


    Classified Section
     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.

Jack Zuckerman
     The first and only time he revisited Brentwood high school after retirement was on Oct 24, 1995 when he sat for an interview in the television studio of the District. Originally from The Bronx, Jack Zuckerman, was born on Aug 8, 1931. He recalled very little from those first years due to what he said was “a difficult home life”.
     Matriculating from Queens and Hofstra Colleges under the GI Bill he began a career in Brentwood in 1956 with a Masters Degree and a first year salary of $4,000. There was no high school or middle school The only schools were Village and South West Elementary. South East was under construction. All other school buildings were erected in the next ten years. The first interview was with Jim Mitchell an Elementary Principal. It occurred in the basement of Village School where his office was located. Space was at a premium. Classes were being held in the Fire House, Churches and in local storefronts. A Secondary position interview was unforgettably conducted by Fred Weaver, sitting on a swivel chair cleaning his nails with a hunting knife. He asked a hypothetical question, the answer to which might well have led to Jack’s immediate firing, had he given the ‘wrong answer’ according to Fred. “If a student does so and so, what would you do?” Even before he could reply, he was told what he would be expected to do, and was given the job anyway. It was from that moment he knew exactly where he stood with Mr. Weaver, his new boss. Jack taught seventh grade in the building that is today, part of the Public Library Local History Room. It had five classes, one in which Jack was assigned to teach English and History. It was located directly across the hall from the office of Dr. Eugene Hoyt, Brentwood’s Principal Teacher. The title of “Superintendent” belonged exclusively to BOCES in those years. Class size (about 30) was not too different from today. He confessed to having trouble with rules with which he didn’t agree and remembered pushing the boundaries of early dress codes to their limits by wearing a turtleneck to work instead of a traditional shirt and tie.  Reflecting on Back to School Night he indicated some of the ways in which it had changed in his memory over the years.
     Jack saw District grow from a sleepy rural village in a 22 sq mi area to a large almost urban system with all of its’ attending problems and lots of people. Students would leave Brentwood as soon as they were able. There was nothing to hold them to the place.  While discipline problems existed, they were mostly verbal in nature. The most painful memory he had was of a time when he was using journaling. A young woman in his class experiencing emotional difficulties was hospitalized in Brunswick. As her teacher he was her only contact with the outside world. One day he received a letter scribed by her finger in blood (he thought she must have severed an artery) in which she wrote a single word, “Help!” He never forgot it. I believe it ended his use of journaling. He spoke of students who he would learn had been murdered locally or while visiting NYC - another source of pain while teaching, but as was often the case with Jack, the good overshadowed the bad. He preferred focusing on better memories. He was an innovator who’d be first to bring Work Experience Credit for students to the District. He was the first teacher in the High School to use computers for diagnostic and grading purposes. Few others were interested.  He wrote Consumer Education Curriculum for the State Education Department and saw it implemented as a team teaching double period involving Home Economics and Social Studies in Brentwood. When State or Federal Funds ran out programs like this were usually discontinued.

     He chose teaching because he believed he could do a better job than some of the teachers he had had in high school where English and History were favorite subjects. “I got better at teaching over time” he said. Some of his best work he felt had been done near the end of his career. He left in 1990 for medical reasons because he had no choice. We talked about his Philosophy of Education and the importance of his role in the Union Movement over time in Brentwood. He extolled the value of unions to young people and the nation for the gains made and benefits provided to students. He wished to be remembered as a person who was active in bringing professionalism to Brentwood through the union while serving as Building Representative, Grievance Chair, Member of the New York State Board of Directors, President of The Brentwood Teachers Association (BTA) - all of which helped improve conditions under which children learned. He recalled when all Long Island School Districts competed with one another for teachers and how lucky we in Brentwood were to get the staff we did. Many of them came by way of avoiding the draft during the sixties and matured into excellent teachers. Since retirement he’d been volunteering as a Nursing Home Ombudsman, enjoying walks and taking photos during the seasons in State Parks and at beaches when unstructured time afforded the opportunity. He loved working with NYSUT Retirees Units to become a founding member of (ROBS) -The Retirees of Brentwood Schools.  His message for beginners was “Hang in there” - “Nowhere will you find a more needed occupation dating back to Socrates”, - “a worthwhile profession, molding the community, the country and yourself.” “Education is making available to youngsters the techniques and abilities to learn. Show them the pathways and they will be motivated. You can’t stop them. Create the situation where they want to learn”. What did he miss? Nothing! Never one to look back, he had no time for nostalgia. Jack Zuckerman would have been 80 on August 8, 2011.


THE TOWN CRIER -  MarilynDePlaza@aol.com

Marilyn DePlaza
"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.
POSTED 9/16/11
     Date is set for naming the Sonderling Court in honor of Stan. It will be Jan. 7 (Saturday) between JV and Varsity Game. Games scheduled for JV 12 noon and Varsity 2 PM. Spread the word. Will follow with more info when I get it.

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