Madeleine Brennan, Longest Serving Principal In New York History, Retires

Source: Google Maps
Source: Google Maps

The principal of Dyker Heights Intermediate School 201, Madeleine Brennan, retired yesterday after 50 years of service. The New York Times is reporting that during Brennan’s half century of work, she was beloved by teachers, parents and students for her dedication and high standards.

While Brennan’s age is a closely kept secret, she told the Times that she had been teaching in New York schools since 1946. She became principal of Dyker Heights Intermediate School 201 in 1963, leaving an impact on the lives of students that would last a lifetime. Her biggest legacy was being a strict stickler against tardiness which extended to parents meetings as well:

If you lived only three blocks away, as Kathleen Katzen did, but arrived only five minutes before a 7 a.m. PTA meeting, Ms. Brennan would practically consider it late. “She’d be settled in for quite a while,” said Ms. Katzen, a former PTA head. “And she’d give me a look.”
And if heavy New York City traffic was your excuse for being tardy, the response from Ms. Brennan was rarely a surprise: “You should have left a cushion of time.”

Teachers like Francine Moscato, who has been teaching under Brennan’s leadership for 25 years, expressed admiration for her boss.

“You didn’t like her sometimes, when you didn’t do what you were supposed to do. But she loved us,” Moscato told the Times.

Theresa Mannarino, a teacher for 24 years, fought back tears in describing Brennan’s impact on the community.

“It’s like losing a mother. She’s one in a million. It will always be Madeleine Brennan’s school. She is Dyker Heights,” Marraino told the Times.

Brennan, who said she would have stayed for one more year if not for her arthritis, expressed immense gratitude to those sending her off into retirement.

“It’s a sad day, but it’s also a happy day,” Ms. Brennan said to her staff. “I love you all.”

In honoring her service, State Senator Marty Golden declared that she was the longest serving principal in New York history, no small feat.