Brownsville Boy Makes Good
YOU GROW UP?
I had an uneventful childhood
in the Brownsville section of
Brooklyn until I was 8. My father
was a professional violinist: Jazz,
Klezmer, recordings, weddings
and Bar Mitzvahs. When jobs
dried up in New York the family
had to move to Miami. There
he worked in a local nightclub
band for an extended period of
time. Mom and I went to live in
a suburb of Miami Beach called
Coral Gables. I hated it. On
the way from the airport to our
modest apartment, imagine my
surprise to actually see signs on
the lawns of buildings reading:
No Dogs or Jews Allowed. We
didn’t even get first billing on
I was enrolled in the local elementary
school. It became known
as the “The Jew School” because
I went there. I was greeted every
morning with, “Hi, Jew Bastard.”
That lasted until one day when
I went all “Brownsville” on one
of the kids. After that they left
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
We returned to Brownsville
and I continued my schooling.
I graduated from Thomas
Jefferson High School and went
on to Brooklyn College where
I earned two Masters Degrees,
one in Social Science and one
in Education. Later, I became
certified in Conflict Resolution
at Teachers College, Columbia.
However, the most significant
degree I got was Mrs. because
I met my wife, Elaine. We were
married on Dec. 22, 1957. Elaine
became an elementary school
teacher and eventually went
back to school to be certified as a
Medical Records Administrator.
Also, as a Cancer Program
Registrar, creating the position
of Cancer Program Coordinator
at Coney Island Hospital.
WHAT DID YOU DO?
I became a father. We have
two children, Stuart, a research
microbiologist, and Andrea, an
elementary school teacher. We’re
blessed with four wonderful and
I became a teacher, an assistant
principal, a principal and
then a mentor of principals. In
addition, I was a field supervisor
for student teachers for
three universities. In my career
I was the principal of P.S. 299,
Brooklyn, in Bushwick; P.S. 32,
Great Kills, in Staten Island; and
P.S. 188, Oakland Gardens, in
Queens. A total of 61 years in
the profession I loved.
WHEN DID YOU COME
TO NORTH SHORE TOWERS?
We lived in Warbasse Houses
for 54 years and moved here in
December 2017. A great move.
I quickly joined the Men’s Club
and became impressed with the
diversity, experience, knowledge
and energy of its members. Also,
I enjoy the company of the many
people we have met here and
the varied cultural and social
opportunities that are available.
I’m a very lucky man. I have
two birthdays: August 28, 1936
and August 17, 2017. The second
is when I had emergency
triple bypass surgery just four
months before we moved here.
LOOKING BACK, WHAT ELSE
ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT?
I’m very proud of the 50 years
of my life that I have devoted
to the union that represents
the NYC principals, assistant
Growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Paul was transplanted
to Florida because of his father’s career. It wasn’t easy being the
only Jewish student in the local elementary school. Bullied at first
and taunted with anti-Semitic remarks, he fought back using the
street defenses he honed in Brownsville and ultimately gained the
respect he deserved. Soon the family moved back to Brooklyn and
Paul passed competitive exams and climbed the ranks of the NYC
Board of Education.
principals and other school
Along with my good friend,
Irwin Shanes, and six others,
we formed an organization that
recognized the influence we
had on the lives of the students
in our care and their teachers.
We received a charter from the
A.F. of L. and took the name
Council of Supervisors and
Administrators (CSA). We tried
to get the Board of Education
to recognize our legitimate
aspirations. When this was
ignored we went on strike and
we were fired. I’ve been “fired”
twice for my union activism.
Finally, we were recognized as
the legitimate bargaining agent
representing school supervisors
and administrators in 1968. A
great personal achievement
shared with others.
4 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ November 2019