All great things must come to an end, and so we say farewell to the people who help to make us who we are. These longstanding influential individuals have shaped Brewster High School into the monument of personalized education that it’s become. As a tribute to their impact, our staff spent some time with these educators to not only say goodbye, but to glean some last minute wisdom from each.
Wisdom at the Buzzer: The Doris Schukin Interview
Conducted by Maddie Majette
MM: Please describe your career path before coming to BHS.
DS: I went to Carmel High then went to Canisius College in Buffalo and majored in Physical Education and sports medicine. I started doing substitute teaching in Carmel then worked at Green Chimneys for a year and then Westchester Exceptional Students School and finally Brewster High School.
MM: What inspired you to become a teacher/enter the field of education?
DS: I was always sports-minded. I liked coaching and being around kids. I also played basketball in college.
MM: What was your initial position when you first started working in Brewster?
DS: I started in the same position I’m in now. I enjoy the high school the most because I can relate to students more and challenge them. It gives me an opportunity to be more competitive as well. Maybe try something new.
MM: Looking back on your career, what would you cite as the highlight(s)?
DS: I had some teams that made it to the County Center – which is the semifinals and finals in basketball.
MM: What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss most?
DS: I’ll miss the students and the rapport I have with them and getting to know them on a personal level.
MM: What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss least?
DS: Having to get up at 5:30 in the morning.
MM: What have you learned from the students you have worked with?
DS: You make more of an impression on students than you realize. Students have come back and told me that I’ve influenced their lives.
MM: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in education/at BHS?
DS: You have to do it because you love it. You have to make sure the students respect you but not to be so hard on them that it pushes them away.
MM: Would you share something with us that BHS students might not know about you?
DS: I love being outside and in the sun. I also have a boat on Candlewood Lake that I love using.
MM: If you could recommend one place that you think everyone should visit, where would that be and why?
DS: I love the tropics. I believe that everyone should visit Key West in Florida. It’s very carefree and non-judgmental.
MM: What are your hopes and/or plans for your retirement?
DS: I want to have the time to do all the things I haven’t had time to do. I want to get back into golfing and fishing. I hate the cold, so I want to travel down to Florida in the winter and stay there.
MM: What’s your favorite game to play with students?
DS: My favorite game to challenge students in is badminton and ping-pong. I think it’s funny that kids will challenge me, but don’t realize the abilities I have.
MM: What’s your most memorable moment from Brewster High School?
DS: Kelly Perch’s three-point buzzer beater at the County Center to beat Lakeland in 2003-2004 basketball season.
Maddie and the staff of Bear Facts wishes Ms. Schukin a very happy retirement and thanks for all of her dedication to the profession.
Making a Difference: The Henrietta Lodge Interview
Conducted by Aimee Rodriguez
AR: What inspired you to become a teacher/enter the field of education?
HL: Well since I’m a social worker, and not actually a teacher, it’s kind of twofold. I knew that I wanted to be in a helping profession. I felt social work was the way to go: it was diverse. In social work school, I was placed in an internship with a school system and I really enjoyed that – being able to work with kids and teachers.
AR: Please describe your career path before coming to BHS.
HL: Well, as I said before, I had the internship which helped me to decide that I wanted to be in schools. My first job was in a drug and alcohol intervention program where I provided student assistance. The agency I was with would contact me to work with school districts that needed me.
AR: So they put you in whatever school needed you at the time?
HL: Yes, I moved around. I wasn’t set in one school. I spent three years at Rye High School, and then I was at John Jay Middle School for fourteen years. Finally, the opportunity to work at Brewster came up and it was a chance to be fully committed to a school, so I took that opportunity.
AR: What was your initial position when you first started working in Brewster?
HL: I’ve had this same job as a school social worker for twenty-two years.
AR: Looking back on your career, what would you cite as the highlight?
HL: I’ve always enjoyed the many different relationships with the students and the staff. Working with students and being able to help them continue with their educations was also a huge plus for me.
AR: What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss most?
HL: Feeling like I make a difference, and laughing with my colleagues.
AR: What have you learned from the students you have worked with?
HL: The main word that comes to mind is resilience; there are so many kids dealing with so much, yet they still pass their classes and graduate. It’s amazing.
AR: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in education or at BHS?
HL: Know that there’s a team of people behind you who want to watch you succeed.
AR: Would you share something with us that BHS students might not know about you?
HL: Um… I still downhill ski a lot?
AR: You’re very right I would have never guessed that. If you could recommend one place that you think everyone should visit, where would that be and why?
HL: Not that there’s anything wrong with Brewster, but travel anywhere but Brewster. Take any opportunity to go anywhere and see the world outside of where you live.
AR: What are your hopes and/or plans for your retirement?
HL: I hope to continue making a difference by doing volunteer work, or maybe I’ll come across some other opportunity. I want to continue helping people. I also hope to travel a lot.
AR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
HL: It’s been a great run!
Aimee and the staff of Bear Facts wishes Mrs. Lodge happy trails and thanks her for all of her invaluable service over the last twenty-two years.
Teach and Make ‘Em Laugh: The James Kilroy Interview
Conducted by Jean Basiletti
JB: What was your initial position when you first started working in Brewster?
JK: I was teaching Chemistry, Regents Chemistry, and SUPA chemistry.
JB: What inspired you to become a teacher/enter the field of education?
JK: I always taught music growing up, and I actually thought I’d be a math teacher. At some point I went from industry, where I was working with some of the worst chemicals in the world, to thinking about teaching it instead. So I went from industry to SUNY Cortland, where I taught music (Spanish classical guitar). While I was teaching music at the school, on my breaks I would take classes in education in Earth Science and Geology.
JB: Looking back on your career, what would you cite as the highlight(s)?
JK: When I was asked to be a Chemistry mentor for the New York state STANYS (Science Teachers of New York State). I was also asked to write questions for the NY State Regents. When I was a mentor, I went around the state teaching teachers how to teach Chemistry. And six years ago I was asked to be a SAR (Subject Area Representative) for all the Earth Science teachers doing workshops.
JB: What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss most? Least?
JK: I’ll miss doing a demo a day in Chemistry. I always liked doing demonstrations: blowing up pumpkins, making rockets go down the hallways on skateboards. I got to sing Chemistry songs in class, and on the holidays when I first started. I’d dress up as Santa Clause on my breaks, throw candy canes in the rooms, and wave goodbye to the buses when they left. I’ll definitely miss all the teachers here. In Language and English and places I visit…they’re all doing something great. I’ll miss the Sci-Tech Club, putting on magic science shows for the elementary school and just coming to work every day and forgetting any troubles you have because you’re with the kids. I always loved that. You could be in the worst bad mood, but when you came to school, you forgot everything. You just had a great time. The least? Probably the grading. I hated grading labs! Also, trying to read the student’s writing. It was very hard to read.
JB: What have you learned from the students you have worked with?
JK: In the clubs I had wonderful students…you asked them to do things, and they were so helpful. But in the classes, they were like my own kids. No different. They were like me, and the way I was in high school. You want to laugh, you want to enjoy, you want to do exciting things, you want them to ask questions, and I think that’s all the excitement. Doing things that make them laugh, think, and wonder about stuff.
JB: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in education/at BHS?
JK: I would say go to talk to colleagues and see what they have to offer. Get online and go to conferences where they have teaching workshops so you can learn about your craft and new ideas on how to present. Things you can do to excite; make ‘em laugh. Just how to enjoy the topic, whatever it is.
JB: Would you share something with us that BHS students might not know about you?
JK: I’m certified in just about every science. I’m also certified in music, and six years ago I completed another degree in technology. I’ve got great hobbies! I’ve been doing martial arts for 35 years. I just started again, so they put me from black belt down to white belt because now it’s a new style. I do leather carving and stained glass. I have a silver medal in fencing from years ago. I used to do fencing in class with the kids: that was so much fun.
JB: If you could recommend one place that you think everyone should visit, where would that be and why?
JK: I don’t know, I haven’t been anywhere yet! I’m planning to take trips to see my family in Ireland. I want to see where all my family grew up, in a little thatched house room, no bigger than a classroom.
JB: What are your hopes and/or plans for your retirement?
JK: I already know this…I’m looking at teaching college again a couple days a week, probably Chemistry. I also hope to travel to all the national parks this summer and maybe rent a trailer to do so. And I’ll go fishing. I’ll get to do all my hobbies!
We wish Mr. Kilroy the best and thank him for his years of dedication and love of it all.
Living Her Best Life: The Dr. Robin Young Interview
Conducted by Akshay Gupta
AG: So, congratulations on your retirement. It’s been a long time…what inspired you to enter education?
RY: I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I still feel like a teacher. The interactions with students, knowing that I could impact other people in a positive way and help them reach their potential in a positive way is still exciting.
AG: I think that’s why a lot of people choose to be teachers.
RY: Yes, absolutely. I think it’s the most important profession, quite honestly.
AG: Describe your career path before coming to BHS.
RY: I worked for a little while in downtown Brooklyn. After a couple years with my children, I went back to a private school in New Fairfield, – Amenities Academy. After that, I went to the public school where I taught first grade. I became an AP there for about five years and then I came to Brewster as an administrator at JFK.
AG: And from there it’s all history?
RY: Right, it’s all history. Twenty years in Brewster. It’s hard to believe twenty years have passed.
AG: Was your initial position as AP at JFK?
RY: No, at JFK I was “house principal.” But after two years, the position was eliminated and I became principal as we know it. The funny thing is when I was first hired, I did not know that I was a house principal. I had never heard of that before.
AG: Looking back on your career, what would you cite as the highlights?
RY: Well, one of the highlights I loved was watching all of you grow up; it’s like having a family of hundreds. And certainly the teaching, even though my hat may say principal, in my heart I’m a teacher.
AG: A completely different question entirely: have you ever considered or wished some days that you were still teaching instead of administrating?
RY: Yes, sometimes, especially when I am observing a good lesson. Sometimes I want to say, “Would you please let me finish this lesson and just teach?”
AG: Did you ever get to teach your own children?
RY: Yes, in the private school, my daughter was in my class. She said I was tougher on her than on any of the other students. My husband had to study with her because I never wanted to think I was helping her too much. And I had my son when I was teaching private school.
AG: What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss most?
RY: The people, this is a people job. And conversations like this. And those moments when I saw that light go on. In first grade you see lights go on every single day…and that’s what I enjoy here, too.
AG: And I have to ask, what aspects of your work will you miss least?
RY: Certain paperwork and organization of the testing sessions. I don’t feel that a test summarizes who someone is… you could be a phenomenal person and not be able to do well on a test. I have a funny story. When I used to go into the first grade class, I would want to know on the first day, who had my sense of humor. I’d stand up and I’d say, “My name is Ms. Young” and then I’d say, “the nice thing is, I’ll never get old.” There was usually only one or two students who would giggle and so I would say, “I know who my…”
AG: Favorites are?
RY: Well, no – my targets. The kids who would get my jokes! They were all my favorites. Sometimes the toughest ones were the ones whom I couldn’t get out of my head…the ones who when they saw the light, it was most rewarding.
AG: So, Dr. Young, what have you learned from the students you have worked with?
RY: Oh my goodness… tolerance, perseverance, flexibility, appreciation for all kinds of differences, whether it’s thinking outside of the box or just an appreciation for languages. Something that is lacking in education, is that we don’t teach a second language the minute a student walks through a door. That should be part of the curriculum and we do everyone a disservice by not doing that.
AG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in education at BHS?
RY: Well you know, most administrators have been teachers. I hope new administrators still love teaching instead of running from teaching. I would suggest they take the time to learn the students beyond the curriculum. And sometimes in education it’s too easy to get caught up in the curriculum and the test scores and all of these other assessments and we forget the human being on the other side.
AG: Well, you’ve shared a lot with us, but is there anything in particular that you would share that BHS students don’t know about you?
RY: Well, someone was surprised when I told them I play the piano. And being a city girl, I will always be a Brooklyn girl, I am glad to see the diversity that has developed in Brewster. Hmm, I also like to go boating.
AG: If you would, recommend one place that everyone should visit.
RY: I’ve been very fortunate to travel to a lot of places. I love Italy…We went to Belize and I loved that. But I guess I would say the outskirts of China. I say that because when you go to the heart of the city, it’s busy and its very city-ish…I like to go to places that are very different. Like Alaska, Alaskan beauty is incredible. There really are so many beautiful places around the world, just see as many as you can. But you might start with Italy, or Greece is also beautiful…
AG: And what are your plans for your retirement?
RY: Ohh, I don’t know. I always used to joke around with the teachers that I’d be here as long as I lived and if I fell over, pull me into a room so that I don’t scare the kids. I guess maybe more traveling, but who knows? People say congratulations and I am very fortunate… that is what I always say, it’s nice to get paid for your hobby. And that’s how much I love what I do. Some people get into professions and they dream about their retirement in the future. I never did that. It’s my hobby!
AG: And that’s perfect for an administrator! I want to thank you so much.
RY: Oh, you’re welcome. This was so nice!
And thank you, Dr. Young, for growing alongside us throughout the years.
Guru to the World: The Peter Goumas Interview
Conducted by Irene Kubinek
IK: How were you inspired to become a teacher/enter the field of education?
PG: I didn’t start off to become a teacher, I had a job where I got to travel, and I always loved history and learned a lot about culture and people from the job. I love to talk and tell stories, and I realized teaching was the right thing for that. I like being around kids, it’s fun.
IK: Please describe your career path before coming to BHS.
PG: Graduated college, I thought of going to law school, but then realized I didn’t want to, and became a social studies teacher in 1985 in a private school. Then in 1986, I worked at a predominantly black public school, and was one of the few white teachers so the students thought I was a cop. It was seriously a culture shock coming to Brewster with the different diversity. I then became Assistant Principal, and wanted to work my way up to becoming a principal. Life took an unexpected turn, and I left administration, and started being a teacher again. I realized I’d be a better teacher than administrator.
IK: What was your initial position when you first started working in Brewster?
PG: Assistant Principal at Wells Middle School
IK: Looking back on your career, what would you cite as the highlight(s)?
PG: I think probably the fact I was able to help a lot of kids, kids with family problems and other things life-related. I was glad I was able to help kids and still keep in touch with them now and help them as they become adults. It was nice that I felt that kids could come to me and trust me.
IK: What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss most? Least?
PG: The kids. I’ll miss the students. I learned just as much from them as they learned from me. I think about how all my former students are doing. Some have children, I’ve been to their weddings and baptisms, etc. Least? I’m not gonna miss the poor decisions that people are sometimes forced to make that don’t line up with what helps students most. I don’t think kids in high school are getting real life experiences, or at least as much as they should.
IK: What have you learned from the students you have worked with?
PG: A lot of things. Laughter, how smart a lot of kids are, but I’m concerned about the disappointment they’re gonna face in the real world.
IK: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in education/at BHS?
PG: I’ve already had former students get hired here. I tell them to work hard and observe. You don’t know everything, so allow yourself to learn and to be in tune for your kids and be available to learn from them. Sometimes the welfare of the kid is not always number one, but it should be.
IK: Would you share something with us that BHS students might not know about you?
PG: I actually had a conversation with Donald Trump at a Mets game before he became President. And I was apparently the first American to have McDonald’s in Beijing. They wanted to see if their food was similar to America’s McDonald’s and cheered for me when it was.
IK: If you could recommend one place that everyone should visit, where would that be and why?
PG: The Grand Canyon. It’s a culmination of everything: art, beauty, geography, death, history and so many others. Under the stars, the Milky Way over the Grand Canyon is just phenomenal. You can easily enjoy life without spending a lot of money.
IK: What are your hopes/plans for retirement?
PG: I hope to still have an impact on young people’s lives. I plan to mentor students and work with students who are very ill or disadvantaged. And I want to take a lot more pretty pictures of the sky, and learn more about it.
From all of us, Mr. Goumas, thank you. Truly. Your lessons will stay with us forever.
A special thank you to Mr. Robert Kerrigan, for your heart, sweat, calculations, and solutions. We wish you the best in your retirement. You will be missed.