2003-10-03 / Columnists

Simon says...

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
Simon says...

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Last Thursday evening, the Good Government Regular Democratic club held its first meeting of the season. The main speaker at our educational forum was Dr. Kathleen Cashin, the Superintendent of Region 5 in which District 27 is located. Other speakers were Rita Giaramita, Superintendent of District 27 and Instructional Supervisor for many Rockaway schools, Brian O’Connell, Principal of P.S. 114 and George Giberti, Principal of M.S. 180. The packed audience included Claude Monereau, Denys Irving and Regine Lifranc, Assistant Principals at Beach Channel high School, Diana Funtleyder, Literacy Coach in Region 5, Adam Funtleyder, Owner of Busy Bee Learning Center and a teacher at P.S. 225, Captain Robert Nussberger of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, Joe Featherston, an educator who leads the Special Olympics at St. Camillus, Lolly Davis, President of the Phillip Port unit of the American Cancer Society and Virginia Carson Smith of Rockaway Park, an active parent and voice for neighborhood schools.

I took the time to praise Dr. Cashin for making the Democratic club her first stop in Rockaway last spring and following up and solving a problem concerning the principal at P.S. 114. She made sure to get a quality educator with great knowledge and experience, and a community resident. Brian O’Connell is doing a great job as well as listening to parents. Dr. Cashin helped Beach Channel High School get a principal, solved some busing issues, helped reunite some families with children in different schools on the mainland. We are so pleased with all the fine work she did last spring.

After a sophomore from Beach Channel high School recounted some personal experiences with being denied the right to go to the bathroom after lunch, having to carry an 18 1/2 pound book bag and facing the risk of being locked out of a class for an entire period if he is only one minute late for a class, Dr. Cashin discussed some of the problems at Beach Channel. She said that she had visited the school and found some classes in which no teaching or learning was going on. Dr. Cashin said she knew about gang activity and an assault at the school. She promised that the programming would get tighter and the school would turn around.

Dr. Cashin asked the audience how long it took Beach Channel to decline. The problems couldn’t be solved in 25 days. She promised to form a council with community leadership to solve the problems in the school. The audience was urged to keep the pressure on Dr. Cashin and she pledged to do a good job. I agreed to hold a meeting where Dr. Cashin would meet with parents to improve communication on issues and ideas. She said children who are learning will not get involved in angry acts of violence. Dr. Cashin wants schools in the Rockaways to be competitive so we can keep our children here and not lose them to schools out of Rockaway.

Dr. Cashin also invited Steve Greenberg, President of Community School Board 27, who was in the audience, to speak. He also agreed that all should work together for the sake of the students and the betterment of the schools including the middle and high schools. He thanked the superintendents and principals for their support and assistance in the Rockaways. He said there wasn’t a time he asked Lew for a favor for the kids that he wasn’t there.

George Giberti spoke briefly on his position as principal of MS 180 and the recent progress. He spoke of a Law of Forensics program and thanked Steven Greenberg and the school board for a $1.5 million grant that helped make it happen.

Brian O’Connell, principal of PS 114 spoke briefly and thanked Dr. Cashin and the deputy superintendent for the chance to work with them and for their trust in him. He expounded how he had grown up in the Rockaways and knows the community and invited the parents to be a part of the change in his school and also in all the schools.

We are concerned with recent cuts in service by the private bus lines. We have heard from bus drivers and passengers. You can call Doris Dranche, General Manager of Green bus at (718) 995-4755 and Deputy commissioner Judy Bergtraun of DOT at (212) 442-7042. Let us know how the bus service has been.

We are mourning the loss of Mildred Wadler the sister of Flo Altschuler our long time friend, neighbor and board member. Mildred was a good person, loving mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Nothing was too hard for her. She was always there to help. She worked as a remedial reading teacher for the NYC Board of Education.

Milred opened her home to Jewish immigrants from Russia. She embraced and helped them learn Judaism. She was a special person. When they made her, they threw away the mold. She was always there for her sister Flo and Flo’s daughter Michelle. A resident of Far Rockaway for over 30 years, she was living in Cedarhurst and Florida. Our deepest condolences to the whole family.

Many of the people at our meeting joined the Good Government Regular Democratic club. All local residents who are interested in our community are invited to join. Send your dues, $25 family, $18 single and $12 Senior Young Dem to Good Government Regular Democratic club, 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park, NY.

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