Educational Articles

Teacher Strikes in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s

Teacher Unions provided a platform for negotiations between the teachers and the Board of Education. Without the Unions the Boards of Education would have the teachers working for practically nothing in salary.

When local boards of education and the local politics take hold of a district very little good can come from it in teacher salaries and contracts.

Few people realize that all teachers are required to have a Masters degree in three years or get fired in New York State in the 1960-1990’s. That meant they had to have a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree and a Master of Education degree. They were only one degree away from a Doctoral degree for teaching at Colleges and Universities, yet, locally they never got the professional respect they deserved for teaching the fundamentals and steps of education that students required to succeed. Many teaches went beyond the classroom to help students. Some gave their students motivation, some gave love, some provided mentoring, and in the end, their students always remembered what they did.

Every four years there was a new contract, and every four years the Board of Education would try to stall the new contract by a year or two until the teachers could not take any more since they were behind the cost of living as much as 15% or more. Strikes were the only weapon to get parents involved to support the teachers and their students. Necessary but painful for all parties involved. PKM

Educational Articles

The third Principal of Cucamonga JHS from the novel, The Junior High

Principal of Cucamonga JHS
Educational Articles

Mrs. Lee the kind Home Economics teacher at Cucamonga JHS

Mrs. Lee was the Home Economics teacher at Cucamonga JHS in the 1960’s and 1970’s. She taught Cooking and Sewing skills classes. When every any teacher wanted to go to China Town in New York City, they first went to Mrs. Lee. She would write Mandarin on the back of a business card of a great Chinese restaurant in China Town, New York City. When a teacher and friends went to these places they presented the card and got the best Chinese meals not on the Menu ever seen. She was always very gleeful and happy and will always be remembered by her students.

Educational Articles

The Junior High, TV script and the novel

Last summer I went to Las Vegas to do a movie pitch for my novel, The Junior High, based on the years I was a teacher in New York State 1960-1990. The movie producers liked my book pitch for a movie or TV script and gave it highest honors with the suggestion that I make a TV script based on the book, like the TV series, “Welcome Back Kotter.” So, this past few months I finally found a good TV script editor software and began to change my novel from topics into dialogue. It wasn’t easy, but after many revisions and edits upon edits, I finally finished with 15 one hour episodes or one season’s worth of TV stories.

Like the movie, “Up the Down Staircase,” and “Blackboard Jungle,” this novel is based on fact, you cannot make up the stories I experienced over 31 years of teaching as a Health Ed. teacher and Phys. Ed. teacher and six years as a Dean of Students. I got to see Education on both sides of the fence.

What makes this TV script unique is the common thread of a handful of young teachers in their 20’s, who had families and sometimes children becoming the leaders of a Junior High School that eventually ranked among the best in New York State after winning the Most Outstanding Junior High in New York state award in 1986.

What made this Junior High unique? The teachers commitment to more than just academics. They also coached sports at the school, ran clubs after school, mentored and tutored students, and provided leadership by commitment and sacrifice. Yet, at the same time much of what they and others did was very funny. The stories of what went on in their classrooms are the heart of the TV script.

As I stated before you cannot make this stuff up, it was all real at one time; the two teachers making love after hours in the custodian supply closet only to have the custodian accidentally discover them when he opened the door; the Civil rights walkouts; the Anti-War protests by students; the weekly fake bomb scares; the unique nature of some of the teachers and the administrators; the Principal’s slush fund from soda machine kickbacks; teacher strikes and their affect on teachers; Teacher Union power; Burnt out teachers; Politics in a school; After school activities, Ski Clubs, Gymnastic Clubs, sports…

So I have completed the 12 final draft with expanded scenes about family life for the central teacher figures and how they managed to survive poverty and the stresses of teaching on the Junior High Level in New York State. PKM

Educational Articles

Sample TV Script for -The Junior High 1960-1970’s, adapted from the novel, The Junior High by Dr. Pelham Mead

A TV drama/humor script for the series called: The Junior High School 1960’s -1980’s

Description of Scene: Piles of wood everywhere, backhoe parked nearby and many trucks parked in background. Front of the building, Glass with taped X in the front hallway.

Characters in scene 1-
Mr. Green- Job Foreman
Construction worker #1
Sam Woodruff-Superintendent of Schools, Highland, NY

Job Foreman-Mr. Green- (Talking to another unnamed construction worker outside the school building) “Well it looks like we aren’t going to finish this job on time for the opening on September 5th.”

Construction Worker #1-“That’s too bad. There are going to be a lot of unhappy parents and students.

Job foreman: “Yeah about 600 unhappy students to be exact.”
Construction Worker #1: “What’s holding up the job?

Job Foreman: “The auditorium seats have not come in yet. We are also five unfinished classrooms left on the second floor.”

Construction worker: “Wow, that’s a lot to do. Well I have to get back to work. See you later boss.”


Description of scene: (Phone rings and a secretary sitting at a desk in a large office area surrounded with books on shelves and education posters.

Mr. Sam Green-Construction foreman,
Mrs. Adler- Superintendent of Schools secretary
Mr. Sam Woodruff- Superintendent of Schools for Highland School District, New York
Mr. Bill Flemingberg- Teacher Union President
Sam Grossberg-President of Board of Education

Mrs. Adler, secretary to the Superintendent of Schools: ” Hello, Superintendent Woodcraft’s office, Ms. Adler speaking, how may I help you?”

Construction Foreman, Mr. Sam Green-“Hello, I would like to speak to the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Woodruff, please. This is Mr. Green, the Foreman on the Cucamonga school construction.”

Secretary Adler: “Yes, one minute Mr. Green. I will put Superintendent Woodrift on the line for you.”

Secretary Adler: “shouting into the next room” “Mr. Green the Job Foreman on line 2 sir.”

Supt. Woodruff: “OK, I got it, Hello,

Foreman Green: “Hi, Mr. Woodruff, this is foreman Green speaking.”
Superintendent Woodruff: “Yes what can I do for you Mr. Green?”
Foreman Green: “Well, Sir I am afraid I have some bad news for you.”

Supt. Woodruff: “Yes what is it?” (In an angry manner)
Foreman Green: “The chairs for the auditorium for Cucamonga JHS have not arrived yet. In addition, we are five classrooms behind in finishing, Sir”

Supt. Woodruff: “Are you kidding me! Here it is September 2, three days away from opening and you are telling me we are not going to finish on time? What the hell am I going to do now? We sent out 600 letters back in August to the new Cucamonga JHS students about opening day on Sept. 5th.”

Foreman Green: ” May I suggest Sir, that we lock the auditorium closed and block off all access to the five unfinished classrooms on the second floor, front hallway.”
Supt. Woodruff: “What about the building inspector? He is never going to give us a CO with the building unfinished.”

Foreman Green: “Don’t worry about the building inspector, we will slip him some money to go away until the building is done.”

Supt. Woodruff: “You can do that?”

Foreman Green: “Let me worry about that, Sir.”

Supt. Woodruff: ” OK, I want action and fast.”

Supt. Woodruff: “Miss Adler, get me the President of the Board of Education, Mr. Grossberg, and Mr. Flemingberg, the Teacher’s Union President on the phone right away.

Supt. Woodruff begins pacing back and forth and looking out his office windows.

Foreman Green: ” Thank you Sir, goodbye.”

Supt. “Miss Adler, get me the President of the Board of Education, Mr. Grossberg, and Mr. Flemingberg, the Teachers Union President on the phone right away.

(Narrator: Supt. Woodruff begins pacing back and forth- looking out the windows of his office)

(A few minutes later the Phone rings)

Ms. Adler- (shouting) Mr. Woodruff, Mr. Flemingberg calling on line 2.”

Supt. Sam Woodruff- (Speaking to Bill FLemingberg, Teachers Union President)-“Hello Bill, I just wanted to let you know we have a problem with the opening day at Cucamonga Junior High school. The auditorium had no seats yet, and we are five classrooms upstairs away from finishing. I just wanted to keep you informed. Please tell your teachers that regardless of what gossip they hear, we will open on Sept. 5th with a faculty development day. Students will report on Sept. 6th at 9:05 am.

Bill Flemingberg- Teacher Union President “Thank you Sam, I will notify all our Union Members that is business as usual at Cucamonga Junior High school, and all teachers assigned to that new school are to report in at 9:05 on Sept. 5th.

Supt. Sam Woodruff- “Thanks Bill, I will keep you informed, gotta run, bye.”

(Phone rings again)

Ms. Adler, Secretary ” Mr Grossberg is on line 3 sir.”

Supt. Sam Woodruff- “Thank you Ms. Adler, I got it”

Supt. Sam Woodruff-(Speaking to Sam Grossberg, President of the Board of Education- ” Good morning Sam, Shalom. How are you today?

Sam Grossberg,- Pres. Of the board of Education- “Good and you?”

Supt. Sam Woodruff- “Sam we have a problem with the construction at Cucamonga Junior High school. The auditorium seats have not yet been delivered and they have five more classrooms on the second floor to finish.”

Sam Grossberg- “Wow, are we going to open on time?”

Supt. Sam Woodruff- “Yes we are going to open on Sept. 5th for the faculty conferences, but the upstairs will be blocked off, and the auditorium will be locked.”

Sam Grossberg- “OK, I am glad we have a backup plan or the parents will be calling me night and day.”

Supt. Sam Woodruff- “I will keep you informed Sam, have a nice day”

Sam Woodruff- “Goodbye Sam”

Supt. Sam Woodruff (dialing out on a 1960 rotary phone) “Hello Principal Woorley? This is Superintendent Woodruff. I have some good, and bad news for you. Which do your want first?”

Principal Ned Woorley “What is the bad news.”

Superintendent Sam Woodruff -“Well the construction on your school is running behind schedule. Your auditorium chairs have not been delivered yet, and five classrooms upstairs rooms 201, 202,203,204, and 205 are not finished yet.”

Principal Ned Woorley ” Are we going to open on Sept. 5th?”

Supt. Woodruff- “Yes but with restrictions. The second floor font stairway will have to be blocked off by your staff, and the auditorium will have to be locked.

Principal Woorley “So what is the good news?”

Superintendent Sam Woodruff- “The good news Ned is your are going to open on Sept. 5th for the faculty conference day.”

Principal Woorley- “Great, I will get on the closures right away in the hall and auditorium. Thanks you and have a nice day.”
Principal Woorley- “Mrs. Grey call the Assistant Principal Mr. Kelp and have him modify the class schedule and move rooms 201 to 205 to different rooms. If there are not rooms available the small cafeteria will be available except periods 3,4, and 5 during lunchtime. Also, have him inform the faculty and staff that construction will go on during school hours and the auditorium is off limits and will be locked until the chairs arrive.”

Mrs. Grey- Principal’s secretary- “I am calling him right now Mr. Woorley”

Principal Woorley “What are I going to do about the parents, should they be informed? It is probably too late for that.”
(Talking out loud to himself)

Narrator: “And so the first day of school arrived with faculty conferences on Sept. 5th and all Cucamonga Junior high faculty were to report to the building as usual for meetings.

The Scene is the school library with stacks of books behind folding chairs all facing the librarian’s counter. A table with a large 40-cup coffee machine and donuts is on the side of the room. The windows are on one side of the room and the other side of the room is the entrance door and the exit door in the back of the room

Mr. Ned Woorley, the principal, first welcomes all the teachers and then introduces all the new teachers to the staff.

(Date Sept. 5, 1960, Cucamonga JHS Library)

Mr. Ned Woorley, Principal- “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to the Cucamonga Junior High. For those of you that are new, Welcome to your new home.
“I hope you had a satisfying and enjoying summer vacation.”We administrators came back in August to set up the new course schedule and assign teachers to all the classes. This year we have gone from 80 teachers to 120 teachers due to the increased enrollment over the past summer. I want to introduce my two assistant principals, Mr. Sam Kelp and Mrs. Sue Blackberg. Mrs. Blackberg, as you know is in charge of the Guidance department and scheduling. Mr. Kelp is in charge of the school budget, purchasing of supplies and inventory in the school. “

“Does anyone have any questions so far? ‚ “OK, now for the construction problems you may have noticed when you entered the building. The construction is not officially finished yet. The chairs for the auditorium have not been delivered yet, so the auditorium will remained locked until the seats are delivered and installed. Five classrooms on the second floor first hallway have not been finished yet, so the construction will continue on a 12-hour basis until it is completed. The upstairs hallway will be closed off to students and staff until it is finished. I am asking you to be patient and bear with us with this construction situation until it is over.”

I have had Mrs. Blackberg move five teachers who would have been assigned to those classrooms to other classrooms for now. Some teachers may have to use the small cafeteria during some periods when no other classrooms are available. This will only be temporary I want to emphasize and in a month or less this will all be finished and we can return to normal.”

(Narrator: A few wise cracking older male teachers in the far back corner of the library were commenting to themselves as Principal Woorley introduced the new teachers.)

Paul Padua- English teacher, “Here we go with the usual parade of new teachers”

Frank Cartoone. English teacher,-“At least we have more teachers to handle the additional enrollment the past summer.”

Principal Woorley- ” Let me introduce some of our new teachers this year, Mrs. Ella Weisenfeld will be one of the new science teachers. Let us all welcome her (clapping)‚

(Narrator: Paul Padua a heavy weight teacher at the back of the room) leaned over to his friend Abe Levinski, and says,

Paul Padua-English teacher-“Wow, she looks like she lifts weights, as and they both laughed quietly.”

Abe Levinski-Math department chair-”New school, new teachers, except for those few that transferred from South Junior High.

Mr. Woorley-“I would also like to introduce all of our department chairperson who transferred with me from South Junior High school:

Mr. Tom Topover- Social Studies Chair, Renee Gotberg- Foreign Language chair, Mr. Samuel Moonski-Science department chair, Milt Levine- English, and Abe Levinski-Math Department chair.

For special education Mrs. Jody Cantor and Ms. Carol Streveski.

For Physical Education Mr. Paul Everett has moved up to the High School leaving Mr. Sam Steinfeld as the new department chairperson.

Ronnie Hicastle, Math teacher- (talking to Abe Levinski, Math Department Chairperson) ” So Abe what do you think of the new crop of teachers?”

Abe Levinski, Math chairperson-” We shall see how well they do after the first day. I am glad our classrooms are in the wing where we cannot hear the noise of the construction.”

Ms. Ronnie Hicastle-Math teacher- “I heard we are getting a few hundred new students that enrolled over the summer, and more are expected to enroll on the first day. The classes will be larger than 28 students this year.”

(End of Scene) Fade out.