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Bob Ginsberg Day celebrated at Johnson Park School

Angela Siso Stentz has been appointed interim principal of the Johnson Park School.

More than 200 of retired Princeton Public Schools administrator Robert Ginsberg’s closest friends – students, staff and parents – honored the longtime principal under warm, sunny skies at the Johnson Park School May 9.

The highlight of the event, which marked Ginsberg’s birthday, was the formal dedication of the Robert Ginsberg Amphitheater at the elementary school, located off Rosedale Road. A decision to rename it in his honor was made in 2020.

Silver balloons that spelled out “Bob” floated in the breeze near the amphitheater. Event organizers wore dark blue T-shirts. The message on the back of the T-shirt spelled out “Bob – Be the reason someone smiles today.” The “O” was a caricature of Ginsberg.

Ginsberg capped a 58-year career in education that began in Brooklyn, New York, when he retired from the Princeton Public School District on Dec. 31, 2021. He served as principal of the Littlebrook School and the Johnson Park School.

He also served as the assistant superintendent of schools for one year – in between the two principalships – and then as the acting assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for 18 months until his retirement.

Johnson Park School Principal Angela Siso Stentz announced that “the official Dr. G. Day has arrived – the myth and the legend. He has touched lives in every way, and today is his day. We love you, Bob.”

School board member Susan Kanter, Mayor Mark Freda and Princeton Council members Leticia Fraga and Leighton Newlin presented Ginsberg with a joint proclamation in his honor.

Superintendent of Schools Carol Kelley unveiled the dedicatory plaque that read, “Every kid in your class is someone else’s entire world.”

Elme Schmid, the Johnson Park PTO co-president, said the Johnson Park School community had been looking forward to the celebration. Ginsberg has demonstrated a lifetime dedication to education, she said.

“We appreciate the wonderful example you set for all of us,” Schmid said.

Ginsberg was famous for knowing every child’s name and remembering their birthday, said Milena DeLuca. He kept tabs on his former students and sent them handwritten congratulatory notes on their accomplishments, she said.

“‘Your child is special.’ That’s what embodies Bob. I saw him treat everyone as special. Make sure he knows you’re here – you will get a letter from Bob tomorrow,” DeLuca said, gently teasing Ginsberg.

Johnson Park School teachers Donna Eisenacher, Alison Lepard and Maureen Augustin praised Ginsberg for being supportive of students, and of the staff whenever they had family issues.

Ginsberg would always try to find the positive in everything, and he never discouraged teachers who wanted to try a new approach to curriculum or a new project, they said.

“Bob made it his business to know our families. He is more like a doting grandfather. Bob is a walking, talking example of what dedication is,” said Augustin, who came to the Littlebrook School as a student teacher in 1991.

Ginsberg thanked the speakers for their kind words.

“There is an old African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ It’s the people who have traveled with me,” he said.

He recounted his career path, from classroom teacher in Brooklyn to administrative posts in the East Brunswick Public Schools and the Princeton Public Schools. He credited his wife, Ellen, and their daughter, Leah, for making him the educator that he became.

“One thing that guided me was the centrality of children in our lives,” Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg said he always wanted to become a school principal, so he jumped at the chance to reopen the Littlebrook School in 1988 as its principal. The school had been closed for 15 years.

“What I learned at the Littlebrook School is how unique the Princeton schools are. It has more than its share of competent staff, parents and community, too,” he said.

During his tenure at the Johnson Park School, “everything I saw confirmed what I learned at the Littlebrook School,” he said.

“For 58 years, I was fortunate to do what I loved. Trust me, you enriched me more than I enriched you,” he said.

Summing up his career as an educator, Ginsberg quoted the children’s author, Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

“That’s how I feel now,” Ginsberg said.

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