“How are ya’?”…once echoed through the halls of MCNY, now fades into silence following the loss of Dr. Leonard Golubchick in December 2023. His presence, a hearty New York accent and a warm smile remain etched in the memories of all who were fortunate enough to know him.

As a beloved faculty member in the Audrey Cohen School for Human Services and Education, Master of Science in Education program, Dr. Golubchick brought a world of experience to the table. He was also the Coordinator of Field Placement and Teacher Opportunity Corps II for the program. These positions allowed him to use his big personality and networking skills to forge lasting relationships with principals in the five boroughs to place our aspiring MSED graduate student teachers in schools where they would be needed most. In 2011, he stepped in to serve as the Director of the MCNY Bronx Extension Center helping to solidify relationships with Lincoln Hospital, BronxWorks and Lehman College to build a path to recruit new students and open the door for internships and job placement.

Dr. Ianniello with Dr. Gloubchick

“It is hard for all of us, faculty, students, and staff to realize that  MCNY no longer has such a dynamic, conscientious and caring professional educator. The number of students, teachers, and other administrators he greatly influenced is legion,” said Dr. Patrick Iannello, Director of MCNY’s Master of Science in Education program.

Dr. Golubchick began his career as an educator in 1967 as a middle school science teacher on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He also served as the drug coordinator in District 1 for several years. In 1978, he was named principal of Public School 20 on the Lower East Side. Dr. Golubchick, known affectionately to the school community as “Dr. G” remained at the school for 28 years, retiring in 2005.

Dr. Golubchick and his wife Judy Golubchick

A profile on Dr. G’s retirement in amNY (link) described how he transformed PS 20, which had been plagued with tension and discipline problems, into a school with a variety of arts and education programs, a student body that more than doubled, and test scores that consistently improved until it was in the top fifteen percent of NYC schools in reading and math. Mrs. Judy Golubchick said her husband “won numerous grants that enabled the school to expand its arts programming, field trips to national monuments and museums, literacy programs for parents, and more.

Dr. G told amNY, “We have to keep fighting for our schools…

and no one fights for this school like I do.

2015 MSED Alumni Reception

For many years, Dr. G served as chair for the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators District 1. In retirement, he worked as a consultant for City Council Member Alan J. Gerson (who represented the 1st District) and as an adjunct professor at several colleges including MCNY, starting in 2005.

Dr. & Mrs. G with son Dr. Jeffrey Golubchick

Born in Brooklyn in 1943, Dr. G’s academic prowess was matched only by his love for his family. Survived by his wife of 52 years, Judy, his son Dr. Jeffrey Golubchick and daughter-in-law Amy, and his adored grandsons, Hudson and Jordan.

Dr. Leonard Golubchick’s passing left a void in the MCNY community, but his warm spirit endures in the countless lives he touched. His commitment to Purpose-Centered Education and unwavering dedication to his students and colleagues serve as a lasting inspiration for all who follow in his footsteps.

Dr. G is surrounded by his beloved colleagues.

In 2011, Dr. Grace “Jinx” Roosevelt interviewed Dr. Leonard Golubchick for a faculty profile feature in the MSEd Alumni Newsletter. Please enjoy this piece of history with us…

Faculty Profile – Dr. Leonard Golubchick

Jinx Roosevelt, Patrick Ianniello, Heide Hlawaty with Len Golubchick

When asked recently about the qualities he looks for in a teacher, former principal and current MCNY faculty member Leonard Golubchick ran down a familiar list of attributes. “Good teachers have energy, dedication, a knowledge of content; they need to be able to deliver lessons and organize their classrooms; they should integrate project-based learning on a daily basis; and they should know how to build on the social, intellectual and emotional strengths of children. Good teachers,” he concluded, “are thinkers, doers, and risk-takers.”

Those of us who have had the privilege of working with Len (or “Doctor G” as children, teachers, and administrators fondly call him) know well that he himself is a “thinker, doer, and “risk-taker” par excellence. From his early life on the Lower East Side, up through his athletic achievements in high school and college, to his undercover intelligence work in Israel, his doctoral studies in education at NYU, his 28 years as the principal of P.S. 20, and his present life as a teacher of teachers, Len exemplifies the qualities courageous, thoughtful action that he admires in others.

Len’s natural modesty often hides from public view the extraordinary range and depth of his accomplishments. After graduating from Long Island University, he played in the Philadelphia Phillies system until an injury turned him away from baseball as a professional career. He then joined the Navy and was recruited to work as an undercover agent, helping to capture highjackers and terrorists. After deciding to go into teaching, his first job was with a difficult group of 17 and 18-year-old 8th graders who had not yet learned to read. He managed to turn their lives around by organizing hands-on recycling projects in the school’s neighborhood—decades before “environmental education” became a buzzword. After his initial successes with at-risk adolescents, he was asked by the principal of Junior High School 56M to develop an 8th-grade health curriculum, and at that school, a new field of “sex ed” came into being. By the mid-1970s, he was the district director of a Drug Prevention, Health, and Physical Education program in District One, and in 1978, he was asked to become the principal of P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School, located on Essex Street in the heart of the Lower East Side.

As is widely recognized today, “Dr. G.” transformed P.S. 20 from being a low-performing and dangerous battleground to being a high-performing, bright beacon of hope for the neighborhood. When he first took over the school, gangs roamed the hallways, teachers and students distrusted each other, and the school ranked at the bottom 10 percent of city schools in reading and math. By the time he retired in 2005, enrollment had doubled; the school was known for integrating social studies, the arts, and technology in path-breaking ways; and the children’s test scores placed P.S. 20 in the top 15 percent of city schools in reading and math.

How did he do it? In addition to being a thinker, a doer, and a risk taker, Len Golubchick is a mover and a shaker. He has successfully landed grants for school art and technology projects from Estee Lauder, Scholastic Publishing, Oracle Technologies, the Annenburg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has worked closely with the City Council, the Manhattan Borough President, the Board of Education and the State Education Department to support the school’s innovative programs. When a market closed down across the street from the school he worked with N.Y. State Assembly leader Sheldon Silver to have the building turned into a health facility. When a park nearby was re-designed, he made sure that it met the needs of the children in the neighborhood.

Being with Len feels like being with Santa Claus. He often travels with a big bag of handouts – pens or markers or key chains—that he distributes to his acquaintances as he moves through the city. Accompanying him on a school visit one day, I watched with awe as he told a school secretary the number to call to get the phone system fixed, gave a young teacher tips on the new curriculum she was developing, and agreed to get the funding for a million-dollar renovation of the library. All of this was accomplished in a 15-minute interval that also included happy waves of recognition from dozens of children, hugs from former teachers and colleagues, and warm smiles from the security guards – all of whom he knew by name.

When asked how he first got interested in teaching as a career, Len credits his father and grandfather. Len’s grandfather was an early founder of the ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Workers Union) and his father, also a union man, worked with Martin Luther King Jr. to help organize the 1963 March on Washington, at one point even going to jail with King. Len’s parents were not rich. Moving back and forth from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side (“one step ahead of the landlord,” Len says with a smile), the family at one point lived in a fourth-floor walk-up with no refrigerator, only an ice chest. (“The iceman did cometh,” Len quips with reference to Eugene O’Neill’s famous play.) But being agents of social change must have been in the family’s culture, for the legacy continues. Len’s beaming face beams brightest when he talks about his family. His wife, Judy, is a literacy coach at P.S. 64 and his son, who himself practice-taught in LES schools, is now an Assistant Principal.

And Len himself is continuing his own thinking, doing, and risk-taking. In addition to teaching the Social Studies methods course and being the Title V Activity Coordinator at MCNY, Len is an adjunct professor at LIU and St. John’s University. He is working closely with Patrick Ianniello on new grant initiatives. And he is continuing his work with Lindsay Hu on establishing ties with educators in Chinatown.

What I really want Len to do is to publish his autobiography. When I suggested this in our interview he told me something that made my jaw drop. In addition to everything else he’s done, Len Golubchick has also published seven books.