Assistant principal Weiner memorialized at P.S. 20
By Melanie Wallis
Guest speakers, parents and P.S. 20 students came together last Thursday to pay tribute to the late Stewart Weiner, assistant principal of the Lower East Side elementary school.
The hour-long memorial service at the school on Essex St. took place in its auditorium, which is being named in honor of Weiner. Addressing a full room, Dr. Leonard Golubchick, P.S. 20s principal, opened the ceremony announcing the naming of the auditorium for Weiner. Its to say youre here, youre here in our memory and its a living memorial that youre here at P.S. 20, Golubchick said.
Weiner died in May this year of pancreatic cancer at age 52. He had the illness for one year prior to his death. Despite Weiners illness, he continued to work at P.S. 20 until February.
Sitting in the front row were the guest speakers, including Weiners daughter, Bonnie, 24, and son, Jason, 28, sitting with their mother, Sharon Weiner, 52. Other speakers were Peter Heaney, regional superintendent of the Department of Education; Leslie Zackman, a local instructional superintendent for the Department of Education; Jill Levy, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators; and Jerry DeMarco, C.S.A. field director.
Levy of the C.S.A. worked closely with Weiner. She talked about Weiners dedication to his job. Not usually can you turn over responsibility to someone and be sure that they will follow through with mind and spirit, she said. He loved his job and his students.
Zackman remembered Weiners passion and sense of involvement with the schools projects when Weiner dressed up as Santa Claus and danced down the aisle at a holiday concert.
Weiner, born in Brooklyn, was the assistant principal at P.S. 20 since 1991, having previously been assistant principal of P.S. 134. During this time he became very close to his students and was known to spend his personal time arranging extracurricular activities for them, such as trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and the theater.
Following the speeches, 26 pupils went on stage to do a moving rendition of the song Hero and Now & Forever, followed with poetry by Nancy Leu, Delaware Begum and Caridad Ramirez of Grade 5. Two graduates of the class of 2002, Kaitlyn Roldan and Stephanie Rodriguez, along with current fourth-grade pupils Rafael Estevez and Lisa Begum, spoke about their personal memories of their time with Weiner, mentioning his acts of kindness and generosity. Estevez remembered the time when Weiner visited his sister at home when she had broken her leg, and Roldan mentioned her happy memories of the four plays Weiner had taken her to see.
Weiners children, Bonnie and Jason, did a joint speech, with Bonnie doing the reading. Looking strong and composed, she read out an extract from a letter Weiner had written for his family to read following his death, which mentioned his love and passion for P.S. 20. The speech ended with Jason blowing on a whistle three times like a teacher would to signal the end of recess.
The memorial was brought to a close with a slide presentation of pictures of Weiner in his work, with the pupils, co-workers and family.
Lisa Begum remembered one of the last days of school when she presented Weiner with a bouquet of roses; he thanked her with a hug. His hug was as warm as a fireplace, she said.