As the poet said, "Life ain’t been no crystal stair." But despite the torn up boards and broken glass, I kept climbing, and now, life is pretty damn good. So to those who are reading this who also have traveled fractured paths, I say to you "Don’t sit down. Get yourself a vision of what you want your life to be, get yourself a companion for the journey, get yourself a passion, a teacher, plant a garden, greet everyone with a smile, create or do something of value, and keep climbing."
So now for the good stuff only because who needs to recount the negative even though it is probably more interesting.
After graduation from Franklin K. Lane High School on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, I went off to Brooklyn College where I graduated with a BA in English and education, received several awards, a silver key, and happily became a teacher in 1961. My first teaching job was in JHS 214 on Pitkin Avenue. I had gone there as a student after six traumatic years at P.S. 159 also on Pitkin Avenue.
In 1964, an interdisciplinary humanities program that I developed while teaching at Sinnott Intermediate Middle School on Levonia Avenue also in East New York, was selected by the New York City Board of Education as one of the models for city. That program found its way to the State Department of Education in New Jersey, and in 1969, I was invited by the department to become the New Jersey State Consultant in Arts and Humanities. At this time, I had been teaching at Springfield Gardens H.S. in Queens, and there directed, designed, and lit the musical productions. Once Upon A Mattress was my thesis production for my MA in theater. I was twenty-nine.
Working out of Trenton, I traveled throughout the state consulting on interdisciplinary humanities programs K-12, running workshops in affective and cognitive teaching techniques, writing, creativity, and giving speeches. I worked for the state for twenty-seven years meeting remarkable people and ending up laughingly calling myself "a moderately competent bureaucrat" who teamed with others to certify school systems while supervising certain federal and state programs. During these years I received a doctorate in curriculum development.
My first retirement came in 1996. I then opened a part time consultant business and returned to my first love which was teaching English at a private secondary school. My second retirement from these activities came in 2005. For the past twenty-five years I’ve also taught part time Judaica classes for secondary students and for adults. I’ve also published two novels: Consider My Servant and A World of Secrets. Both are available on Amazon and on my web page. They’re both historical fiction about a twin brother and sister living in the 1880's. My Kirkus Review stated that my style had "touches of Dumas, Dostoevsky, and Deuteronomy." Published poetry can be read in past issues of Poetica Magazine and also on my web pages.
My first marriage lasted for twenty years, and ended in divorce circa 1982. I had two daughters with my first wife. One daughter is in computer management living with her family in Los Gatos, CA, and the other is a physician living in Florida with hers. In 1984 I remarried a Midwood and Brooklyn College graduate, and we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2009 by renewing our vows. My wife was an elementary teacher who brought with her three exceptional teenagers who are now adults living with their own families in Boulder, CO. and Charlotte, NC. My stepson is a physician, another daughter received her MBA from Kellogg, and her sister, trained as a teacher, is now a designer. Try four in college at one time. These five have produced nine spectacular grandchildren. Recently, one of my twin grandsons competed on the "Olympics of the Mind" team that came in first in the world in their category. Most play musical instruments.
Writing, advocating, art work, gardening, theater subscriptions, the opera, volunteering, and travel in Europe, Asia, and the states visiting family and friends, keep us really busy.
So keep climbing those steps, and may all the strengths you’ve developed along the way, lead you to new strengths.
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