| IN THE NEWS SEPTEMBER 2014
|RENEW YOUR ROBS 2014-2015 MEMBERSHIP
Just a reminder to our members to renew your ROBS membership for the coming year. You can download the Membership Application
here and mail it along with your check for $25 dollars to Marge Kirchner, 666 Hawkins Road East, Coram NY 11727. Make checks out to ROBS.
If you are not currently a member, please go to the Membership
page of this site to learn more about the many benefits of joining ROBS. You can also download the application from that page.
We hope you will be joining us, and to our current members, thank you for your renewal.
BRENTWOOD ROTARY CLUB WOMEN OF THE YEAR
Donna Keller and Ann Schnal, who will both be retiring from the Brentwood School District this year, will be receiving Rotary's honor as Women of The Year.
Donna Keller is from BHS. She has been the INTERACT ADVISOR for many years and has worked on a number of projects as well as working with the Senior Class. Ann Schnal is from Southwest Elementary. For many years she has worked on the Rotary's Special Needs Holiday Party and helped it to be a success. Both these women are worthy of receiving Rotary's honor as WOMEN OF THE YEAR!
The Rotary Club of Brentwood Women of the Year Gala will take place Wednesday, October 22, 2014 from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. The event will be held at Bella Verde, 600 Long Island Ave., Brentwood, New York 11717. Attire: Business Casual. Individual tickets are $100 and a table for 10 is $900. If you can't attend, you may also make a donation to the foundation. Checks to be sent to: Rotary Club of Brentwood Charitable Foundation, 44 Laurel Drive, Brentwood, New York 11717 For more information Call Bruce Fabrizio at 631-231-0131 or Rose Brousseau at 631-821-0369
ERIC DERIGGI FUND RAISER
Eric, Grace DeRiggi's son, was recently diagnosed with a very large brain tumor. Eric was excessed from Brentwood's teaching staff and currently works for a local business in Fla. His family has established a fundraiser to help with the medical costs. We ask that first and formost Eric and his family be kept in your prayers. If you would also like to donate to this fund, every little bit shared will help and be appreciated by Eric and his family. Please click on the following link for further information and updates. Thank you. www.gofundme.com
WELCOME NEW BRENTWOOD RETIREES
The first ROBS General Membership Meeting will take place on September 5, 2014 at the Brentwood Public Library at 10:00 AM. We will be welcoming all new Brentwood School retirees.
We would like to remind you that at every meeting we accept canned food items for the Pronto Pantry. We will also be accepting donations for "Project Hope" in which we adopt families for the holidays in November and December. Your donations have always helped to make this project the success that it is. You can make your checks out to ROBS and on the memo line indicate "Project Hope"
We look forward to seeing everybody at the meeting.
Barbara Sergi's husband, Thomas (Butch) Sergi passed away. Barbara retired from Special Services in 2001.
Service will be held at Grant Funeral Home, 571 Suffolk Avenue, Brentwood, 273-4443 on Friday, September 19th from 2-4 pm and 7-9:30 pm. Mass will be at St. Ann's Parish on 2nd Avenue in Brentwood at 9:45 am on Saturday, Sept. 20th.
THIS IS WHAT TEACHING IS ALL ABOUT
"I Love You and I Believe in You": A letter by teacher Tom Cunningham has gone viral as the Council Rock community mourns the death of three 15-year-olds. Read online article.
Sadly, Cheryl Castano's mom passed away. Arrangements are as follows:
Funeral: Tuesday 9/2/14 at 10 a.m. at I. J. Morris Funeral Home, 21 E. Deer Park Avenue, Dix Hills.
Shiva: Tuesday and Wednesday, 9/2 and 9/3, at Cheryl's sister Sondra's house: 114 1st Street, Kings Park, NY.
Please keep Cheryl and her family in your thoughts and prayers.
150TH ANNIVERSARY RENAMING BRENTSOOD
September 7 marks the 150th Anniversary of the renaming of Modern Times to Brentwood. The following is the link to the article written by Spencer Rumsey that appeared in yesterday's online version of Long Island Press
: Where Brentwood Is Today Once Stood Long Island’s Own Utopia
Donna Marie Ragonese-Gaston, who retired from Laurel Park in 1996, passed away quietly yesterday afternoon after a long, hard battle with cancer.
She will repose at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave. (Rte.110), Huntington Station. NY 11746.
Thursday and Friday visiting hours will be 2-4pm and 7-9pm. Saturday Morning service will take place at 10am. Interment will take place at St. Charles Cemetary, 2015 Wellwood Ave., Farmingdale NY.
The family requests no flowers but donations can be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering.
|How are we doing?
We'd like to hear from you.
Please visit our
Letters to the Editor
Page 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.
Welcome New Retirees Brunch
RC 21 Website: http://rc21.ny.aft.org/
||WHAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW
Visit the History Place to learn about the month of September in history.
|September, 2014 Holidays, Bizarre, Unique, Special Days
Bizarre and Unique Holidays
All About September
September in History
|ROBS HISTORY PROJECT - John M. Sherin
|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.
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.
THIS MONTH'S FEATURED HISTORY PROJECT
Born Dorothy Sugarman, she was known informally as Dot, Dotty or “Spunky” as her vanity plate informed one and all while on the road in the sports car that spoke her name. Addressed as Dorothy by her mother she came into the world the namesake of her paternal grandmother (also a teacher) changing her name to Zuckerman (not much of a stretch) at the time of her marriage to Jack her husband and life long partner. They had two children, Richard and Jerry, who gave them five grandchildren, 4 boys 1 girl. Their son “Ric” resides in Baldwin, their daughter Jerry in Port Jefferson, while Oakdale was home to Dot and Jack.
Born in The Bronx, Huntspoint (Ft Apache), when it was still a quaint little village, Dot was a child of the depression though she reports never having experienced a sense of need or want during those years. Her father was a teamster truck driver delivering chickens up and down the East Coast. He was a religious man whose own large family came from Baltimore MD (seven or eight siblings) where family traditions were maintained. Dot’s mother was born in the U.S. where she graduated from high school. Both her parents were actively involved organization people.
Her earliest memories are of the ice man, horse drawn wagons, street vendors selling jelly apples and toasted marshmallows. Her grandparents were both born in Russia. Dotty came from a family with generations of strong women and a lineage of first cousins. Her mother enjoyed knitting at one stage until at Dot’s urging. she became involved in Hadassah, the PTA, and other organizations. She was “a super person” according to Dot. Having had an older sister, deceased 10 years prior to the interview, Dot was then the surviving member of her nuclear family. She was also the only one in her family to attend college. A carefree kid, unaware of much of what was around her during WW2 except for what she experienced through friends families, Dotty remembered victory gardens, saving tinfoil and cleaning blackboard erasers of chalk dust without regard to the environment. From age 4 and preschool on, she wanted to be a teacher. Learning to read opened up the world to her. She was a voracious reader until her eyes gave her problems in college.
Legally too young to accept her first offer of employment, Dotty altered her birth certificate to make it appear that she was older than she was,- much to her regret in later years - in order to become a sales clerk at Bloomingdales. She was assigned to the teen aged girls department where she did more modeling of clothes than finalizing of sales.
Her favorite family holidays were mostly religious holidays like that of the Jewish New Year. Consistently a night person, she still favors evenings acquiring a second wind about 8 pm.
The first school attended was PS 48 in the Bronx. She remembers her mother walking her to school on the first day. She next attended Junior High 60, an all girls school. She describes having had a wonderful public school education throughout. When it was time to attend High School she chose one that was co-ed over another all girls school.
Her favorite teachers were those demanding of the best she had to give. She loved Queens College and its campus which she said was beautiful and “out of town,” a two and a half hour commute from the Bronx, making being on time for her first class very difficult. She was a people person who always marched to a different drummer. English was her major at first then changing to education w/ anthropology and sociology as her minor. She acquired the best Liberal Arts education possible at $7.50 per semester which she freely admitted she couldn’t afford at the time.
She talked about how and why she first came to the Brentwood area. Her first year teaching at Bay Shore High School and before becoming pregnant she made $3,200 per year. She was paid once a month. The only interview she remembered was the one she had after a 9 year hiatus to raise Jerry and Richard when she returned to teaching again, this time in Brentwood. She taught a 4th Grade class and remembers her nightmares with students picking away at her and her belief there was not enough of her to go around. After that she learned to draw a line between what she was willing to share of herself and what to reserve for herself. It came down to self preservation at which she was more than successful. Dot was always more of a loner though still a people person. She recalls those with whom she worked her first year in Brentwood.
The Dotty and Jack Team begins to work in earnest in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Simultaneously, Dot is expanding her reach by becoming Principal of her Temple’s Religious High School. She’s becoming involved with the Democrat Party as a Committee person and increasing her work load with the Brentwood teachers Association and allowing it to become all consuming.
Asked about her own perceived personal purpose as a teacher, Dotty admits to always being people oriented; a teacher advocate providing financial assistance and information to both active and retired people as a spokesman for those who are not able to speak for themselves. In that capacity she admits to being a lifelong activist.
Dot came to Brentwood after Jack did and following the organization of the union that he and others had succeeded in creating. The first union contract had been approved in 1968. Jack became President of the Union in 1969 or 1970. They were already a team. Thus it was that Dotty confronted one of the greatest challenges, in her career; defining her new role - that of being her own professional person while continuing to wear the mantle of organizational leadership and finding freedom and its limits as a modern woman, wife and mother.
She jumped in and found her path by becoming Coordinator of Communications, Editor of the first IMPACT Newsletter, plus taking on the time consuming Community Newsletter for a single issue. She was a member of the Union Negotiating Team for years. The most satisfying and demanding task of all was undertaken when she took charge of Grievances for the BTA. Acting in the capacity of semi- lawyer, her work led her to greater union involvement and further association with NYSUT.
Elected a delegate to represent Brentwood Teachers at its’ Representative Assembly, she began to serve on a multitude of committees and task forces. She remained active as a delegate from 1970 to 1991 when she began exclusively to represent retirees.
She recalls the changes and antagonistic conflicts of the early years when a strike was averted prior to Labor Day. It was extremely difficult she said, for others to comprehend how members of the team could battle tooth and nail with adversaries during the day, then break for dinner and enjoy a civil relationship with their counterparts knowing how much work was yet to be done. The surface obscured the sense of purpose that pervaded her enterprise. It was during an era of early union organization establishing boundaries and limitations of conflicting associations. Recalling periodic slates of unchallenged candidates during times when organizational participation was hard to enlist, through it all she persevered.
Meanwhile, the values of our country were changing. Smaller battles like those of dress codes were addressed, fought and won. The wheel turned re-inventing changes morphing from the 1950’s to 2000. All that Dot says “is good. It’s as it should be”. Asked to name the names of her colleagues she sees only a sea of faces acknowledging that she’s been surrounded with people who have made her ask the tough questions and confront central issues. There were no “yes” people around our Dot. They all, she said, “contributed to her growth as a professional.”
So unlike many of the rest of us she didn’t have a timetable. Dot gave no thought to leaving, until in 1991, while preparing for her move with the 6th Grade the following year to the new Middle School, the State offered New York’s first retirement incentive to teachers. She had been looking forward to a new beginning, a new challenge. But for the first time she crunched the numbers for herself she discovered that after 40 years she would have been foolish not to take advantage of the opportunity. She didn’t actually retire, she simply moved on and began again.
With a small group of people she helped organize ROBS – The Retirees of Brentwood Schools, in October of 1991. Soon thereafter NYSUT established Retiree Councils throughout the state of New York based upon geographical areas. Long Island was assigned seven Retiree Districts. Brentwood became part of Educational District 21 that included eleven school districts. Subsequently, Dot was elected President of ED 21.
Then in the Spring of 1972 seeing the benefit of creating, a L.I. Retiree Delegate Council (LIRDC) Dot Zuckerman was appointed Chairperson of the group which met once a month to coordinate the work and focus of the 7 retiree councils. Commenting on the growth of the local organization, Dot noted that the year before in 1999 ROBS had 400 members, acknowledging that at the time the prevailing fear of active member chapters was a retiree takeover. It was a constant struggle to gain acceptance and the trust of active chapters. At the time of the interview NYSUT could boast a retiree total of 25% of the 400,000 NYSUT statewide .members.
Dot cited the COLA Retiree Rally of the previous year where 10,000 members turned out in support of the widely held belief that a cost of living adjustment was long overdue and deserved by members. The success of the Rally showed that NYSUT Retirees were a force to be reckoned with and that their time had come.
Then in a move that had not been anticipated Dot stepped down from Leadership of ROBS and LIRDC and accepted a newly created staff position to serve Retirees in the Hauppauge office of NYSUT where she would represent all retirees instead of individuals.
She had continued to offer Ready or Not workshops from the late 70’s for 20 years and once again had to shift her view of reality, transitioning the purpose for which she had dedicated her service, helping even more people work their way through the system.
We talked about her latent artistic Folk Art talent discovered years before and then set aside after an initial successes with her Grandma Moses Folk Art paintings. Her life had not included sufficient leisure to encourage her creative expression in the last few years. Yet, for her the unfinished business was to discover how “to give more of me.” It bothered her that given her personal standards and high expectations she “could have done better.”
The real challenges of the day were the dangers to Public Education of competition from the private sector. At this point survival is the key for young people – bottom line advice is, “do what you know in your heart is right for you.”
Dot continued to look forward to organizing travel groups to remote corners of the world which she did for the next fourteen years. She was and remains, a Woman of Valor standing apart in memory as a force unlike any other.
You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives
Dr. Herb Laub
Eleanor Baker Bazata
Jeffrey Allen Wolfe
Ruth Baker Bernhardt
Shirley Walker Lloyd
|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.
Caster Howard's mother, Lula Mae Howard, passed away on September 13, 2014.
The wake will be held on Tuesday, September 23rd at the Claude R. Boyd-Spencer Funeral Home on 448 West Main Street in Babylon. The hours are 2:00-4:30 p.m. and 7:00-9:30 p.m.
Burial will be on Wednesday, September 24th at Calverton National Cemetery.
Condolences may be sent to Caster Howard and Family at:
16 East Elm Street
Central Islip, NY 11722
Please keep Caster and the Howard family in your thoughts and prayers.