Served at the helm for 50 years
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Madeleine Brennan, the longtime principal of Dyker Heights Intermediate School whose tenure began during the Kennedy Administration, has announced her retirement, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has learned.
Brennan, who is in her 80’s, is the longest serving public school principal in New York City.
She made her blockbuster announcement at an end-of-term party for teachers and staff members on June 21, according to a source. David Pena, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Education, confirmed the news on July 25. "Her retirement is effective July 1," he told a reporter via email. A secretary who answered the phone at Dyker Heights IS Tuesday morning also confirmed that Brennan was indeed retiring. “Yes, it’s true,” the secretary said.
Brennan was not in her office on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
In a New York Times article in 2011, Brennan talked about the importance of caring for her students as people. Brennan was known for being a strict disciplinarian with both students and teachers. Teachers were not permitted to wear jeans to school, for example.
She is a reported to be a strong believer in the importance of arts education. Each year, Dyker Heights IS, at 8010 12th Ave., hold a Shakespeare Festival in the school yard. Student dress up in Elizabethan costumes and recites lines from the Bard’s plays. In her early days at Dyker, Brennan started a school band.
The New York Times article noted that when Brennan took the helm at Dyker in 1963, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge had not yet opened and the US Postal Service had not yet invented zip codes.
Two years ago, Brennan was honored by the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing principals, for her longstanding commitment to education.
Her retirement means that for the first time in half a century, the New York City Department of Education will have to search for a new principal to lead Dyker Heights IS.