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 Insecurity

Ethics for Children Service Project – Food Insecurity

In November the service project that our Ethics for Children program participated in was related to the issue of food insecurity. Our goal was to stock the Community Fridge located beside the Wyckoff Museum (5816 Clarendon Road, Canarsie). 

Students gathered at the BSEC Building to pack grab-and-go lunches. They decorated the bags, then packed them to overflowing. Their efforts yielded 30 nutritious lunches complete with beverages and homemade cookies! Thanks to additional donations collected by our EfC families as well as the larger BSEC community we were also able to fully stock the pantry shelves with nonperishables. We even made sure that the Little Free Library was full! 

Ethics for Children Service Project – Animal Shelter

Ethics for Children Service Project – Animal Shelter

Putting our ethics into action is an integral component of the Ethics for Children program. This year it quickly became apparent that animal welfare is a shared passion among our families, so our first service project centered around that theme.

On the second Sunday of October, we came together at the BSEC building where we made cat, dog and rabbit toys to donate to the Brooklyn Animal Care Center and the Itty Bitty City Kitties rescue. We also made drawings of animals in the shelter to help bring attention to their profiles. (You can still view some of these drawing on the shelter’s Community Kids page:  The special guests of the day were the kittens who were in foster care, growing big enough to move on to their fur-ever homes.

Art Night with Friends

This week we had a lovely event, Art Night with Friends, guided by art educator and director of our Ethics for Children Program, Angel Thompson. Participants created their own petit landscapes, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and stayed long after the event sharing stories and enjoying our lovely backyard. It was a warm and fun multigenerational event. Some of the pictures can be found below:
Ethics for Children Service Project – Beach Clean Up

Ethics for Children Service Project – Beach Clean Up

The best service day ideas come from the kids and our May service day was one of them! Our kids wanted to do something to help our local wildlife.
To set up this project we reached out to the Urban Park Rangers at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park. As it so happened they were doing a public program about Horseshoe Crabs the same day as our service project was planned. The Rangers were more than happy to have our group come join the program and stick around for a beach clean-up afterwards.
After their presentation the Rangers set us up with grabbers and bags and we went to work. While our group is small, we had an oversized impact that day! Our initiative inspired others there for the Horseshoe Crab program to stick around and join in the clean-up!