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I.S. 96 principal Fein to retire - Caring man ‘devoted a lifetime to students’

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After nearly four decades in the public school system, a veteran educator is retiring.

By Thanksgiving, Barry M. Fein, principal of I.S. 96 Seth Low in Bensonhurst, will have cleared out his 1960s-themed office.

Parents, administrators and politicians paid tribute to Fein at a recent meeting of School District 21’s Community Education Council (CEC), which was held at Seth Low, 99 Avenue P.

“He’s devoted a lifetime to students,” said District 21 Community Superintendent Richard D’Auria, who met Fein when the two worked as night school teachers in adjacent classrooms.

Fein is known for being outspoken and sympathetic to the personal challenges middle school students face. A 2007 article in The New York Times portrayed Fein as a caring principal putting students’ well-being before test scores. The story noted that Fein once rode in the back of a police car to search for a missing student.

“He is a very, very dedicated and compassionate person,” D’Auria said.

Fein is also known for his eclectic office, which is outfitted with posters of The Beatles, John F. Kennedy and Heather Locklear, who Fein called “the most important one.”

“His office is like a walk into the 1960s, lava lamp and all,” D’Auria said with a laugh.

Sandra Rodolico, treasurer of District 21’s CEC, called Fein a “great principal.”

“You have shown your kindness, humanity and fairness,” she said.

“I go way back with Barry to when I was on the school board,” said City Councilmember Domenic Recchia. “We’re going to miss you but all good things come to an end.”

Fein accepted the kind words with his usual candor and used the opportunity to tout Seth Low, which he called “the best kept secret in Brooklyn.”

“People don’t know this school and it’s a pity,” he said. “It’s because we’re not Mark Twain, but we’re better.”

The city Department of Education (DOE) is currently selecting a new principal for Seth Low. An announcement is expected by December 1.

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