Working in education has generated many conversations and memories for daughter Sharona Arbeit, left, and mother Marcelle Lowell.
Celebrating the contributions of women is the primary goal of Women’s History Month in March. While some think that only people in powerful positions can make a lasting impact, the Herald spoke to four women, a pair of mother/daughter educators, who believe that through their deeds, they have contributed to making their students’ lives better.
Established in 1981 by Congress and first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the marking of women’s history began as a week and was expanded five years later.
In the beginning
After she became an educator, Sharona Arbeit realized how much of an influence her mother, Marcelle Lowell, had on her. “Mom did things that were so cutting edge, the methodology she used to keep the kids calm and engage the children,” Arbeit said as she sat next to her mother on a couch in Lowell’s seventh-floor apartment in the Kew Gardens Atria. “She came in, put on some classical music, had us listen, close our eyes and draw a picture of what the music sounded like.”
Arbeit, 59, the director of Children’s Services for the JCC of the Greater Five Towns for the past seven years, said this educational tool is used today, and though both her and her mother didn’t intend to be teachers they ended up sharing memories of working in the same field.
Naomi Lippman, now an administrator, is the general studies principal at the Hebrew Academy for the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR), where her daughter Hannah is a kindergarten teacher.
Naomi’s career has spanned 30 years, but realized she wanted to become an educator when she was still a student. “Even when I was an adolescent, I was a successful student,” Naomi said. “People came to me for help, asking if I would tutor the elementary children in my community.”
Teaching has become a family profession, as Naomi’s mother and two of her aunts were teachers also. “They were all very successful, dedicated elementary teachers,” Naomi said. “I remember sitting with my aunts while they worked. They were so enthusiastic about creating their lesson plans, so engaged in it. Now Hannah is the third generation in teaching.”