Remembering BSEC’s History – Patsy Tran Berkman

Remembering BSEC’s History – Patsy Tran Berkman

Patsy Tran Berkman is an alumna who is currently 86 years old, but who was, in her childhood, part of what is now our Ethics for Children program. We are lucky to have people like her, who have saved a special place in their hearts for us, even so many years later. Her son, Don Berkman, reached out to us to find out how to honor his mom on her birthday, by making a donation to our scholarships for our Ethics for Children Program, so another child, like she was then, would be able to attend our classes at no cost because of her donation. She has been kind enough to share a message with us and to prepare a special video for the kids. 

Her testimonial and videos are below:

As I enter my 86th year on this Earth, I look back on my days at Brooklyn Ethical with fondness. I began my education there in Kindergarten. I remember the big staircase that took me to my class. How I loved the teacher and all the activities. I stayed until 8th grade. I remember we took our graduation photos in the front of the building on the steps. I live the tenets Brooklyn Ethical Culture taught me every day.

Lessons Learned at Brooklyn Ethical Culture School:
My childhood name was Patsy Tran, (now Pat Berkman). I attended Brooklyn Ethical Culture School from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Memories flood my mind as I write about this wonderful school:

  • The delicious hot lunches
  • Our mid-morning snacks of bread and butter sandwiches
  • Bringing cans of food for the less fortunate at Thanksgiving.
  • Our trips across the street to the Meadow (Prospect Park)
  • From Art Classes to Shop we stretched our abilities and imagination.
  • I learned so much. One of the most important lessons I learned was to stand by my principles and fight for my beliefs.

We would also have weekly talks by Dr. Henry Neuman, one of the founders of the school. The talks were rather dry and we all, I’m afraid, half-listened.
But the story doesn’t end there. It seems I did listen very well to Dr. Neuman. He spoke about equality of religion – all religions. How “Man” is to be respected and treated with kindness and fairness. And these principles of life that he eschewed and the ethical behavior he spoke about is how I have tried to live my life.
Brooklyn Ethical Culture School was more than a school that taught subjects, it was a school whose philosophy was that all individuals have inherent worth and dignity. And we have a responsibility to each other, to Society, and to the community.
Brooklyn Ethical Culture, the school that enriched all who attended.


Ethics for Children Service Project – Food Security

The December Ethics for Children Service Day was focused on food security. We assembled grab bag lunches and collected pantry items for the community fridge that is hosted by the Wyckoff Museum (5816 Clarendon Rd Brooklyn). We also had a special guest, Anaika Forbes, who set up the fridge and the Team Leader of Hashtag LunchBag Brooklyn. Anaika shared how this community fridge, and 2 others, came to be, and how she works to help address food insecurity in Brooklyn. At the end of our day, 24 complete lunches and 4 big bags of pantry goods were delivered!

If anyone is seeking a community fridge in NYC to contribute to or utilize, you can find a map of locations at: If you would like to join Anaika at a monthly Hashtag LunchBag event, you can find details on her social media: hashtaglunchbagbk
To learn more about our ethics for Children classes, visit:
To see the full-sized pictures, please click on the thumbnails below.

Donations for Ethics for Children

This form can be used for donations for Ethics for Children or for payment for pre-arranged class fees.
Thank you for contributing to our program!