Happy retirement, Ms. Madeleine Brennan! Five decades of extreme excellence at I.S. 201

June 26, 2013 Denise Romano
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Having served for half a century, Madeleine Brennan, principal of Dyker Heights Intermediate School,  I.S 201, has finally given up her post.

Presumed to be well into her eighties, the longest-serving principal in the nation left her home-away-from-home while being escorted by State Senator Marty Golden and Karina Costantino, the superintendent of Community School District 20, in front of a staircase full of loving teachers and staff.

“My old legs haven’t given in,” Brennan said about her retirement to a packed school hallway, as she sang and performed the Y.M.C.A dance, all smiles.

“You’re simply the best, better than all the rest. Better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met,” chanted those present, reprising a song by Tina Turner that captured the bittersweet moment perfectly.

Tearful Barbara Sipriano, who now works for the attendance office at the school, dried her tears, yelling out, “I love you, Ms. Brennan.” Sipriano attended I.S. 201 in her own youth, and Brennan was her principal.

When asked about Brennan’s age, Sipriano laughed and said, “Nobody knows; it’s like a big secret.”

Showing her frailty, Brennan slowly made her way down the steps, getting to the school’s main entrance, blowing out kisses to everyone. Bouquets of flowers filled her arms as she was showered with praises and hugs.

“I’m proud of the education that they [the students] got at Dyker. It held them through high school and college. It’s a sad day, but it’s also a happy day,” Brennan said.

Former PTA president, Kathleen Katzen, described the principal as a perfectionist, adding that she cares about the smallest details, such as the trees in the school yard.

“She will be missed. I graduated in 1982 and loved having her as my principal. She ran a great school and had an awesome staff back then. She continued doing a great job all of these years. My daughter just completed the sixth grade at 201 today. I hope her successor does just as good a job as she did,” said Gabrielle Gagliano, one of our readers on Facebook.

“I love what she’s done,” said a graduating eighth grader, Jessica Luo, in tears, explaining that despite the budget cuts, Brennan has done “the best for us,” to keep programs alive.

Also retiring on the last day of school was Joseph  LaCascia, assistant principal of I.S 201 for 44 years, and Brennan’s “right hand,” according to Katzen, adding, “She’s leaving and everybody is going with her.”

Golden wished Brennan a happy retirement, saying that she has a lot to be proud of.

“I hope that she enjoys many years of happiness,” he remarked.

Kids were dismissed early, waving and cheering for Brennan on their half-day before the official start of their summer vacation.

Brennan was selected as New York State Principal of the Year in 1999 and has also served as grand marshal of the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade.


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