Courier Life’s

Carmine hails Coney Island’s ‘Dynamic Duo’

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I’m madder than a cockroach who bought land in Bigfoot’s cave, and now spends his days and nights avoiding those big feet over the fact that I don’t know anything about basket-ball, except the fact that the players today where much baggier pants then they did when I was a Little Screecher.

Look, you all know that I know nothing about basket-ball (editor’s note: including how it is spelled) and because of this, I’m at a loss for words about how to describe Coney Island’s Dynamic Duo, and the first Bensonhurst West End Community Council (commonly know as “BWECC,” which sounds like something from MAD Magazine) honorees that I will profile in this space: Salema and Don Marbury.

Now, I know what you are thinking: Carmine, how the heck can you profile the Marbury’s when you know absolutely nothing about basketball? The answer: use your imagination! Or in this case, think inside the box. Because the fact is that this great Coney couple is about a lot more than the hardwood.

I met Salema Dawson before she became a Marbury. She grew up in Hollis, Queens, a neighboring neighborhood in a neighboring borough, where she attended Jamaica HS (which is, in fact, in New York, and not the Caribbean). She got her bachelors of science degree in applied mathematics from Stony Brook University, a master of science degree in secondary school math education from Lehman College, and a masters of arts degree in educational administration from City College. So let’s just say she’s been to school.

Salema is the principal of PS 329 in Coney Island, but began her career in 1988 as a teacher at IS 116 in the South Bronx, and Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island. Her first passion was teaching math, but her claim to fame has been her commitment to developing programs to improve kids’ self esteem and steering them in the right direction.

F’rinstance, Salema realized early on in her career that many children dream of growing up to become rich and famous, hoping to become one of the “icons” they idolize on MTV and ESPN. But Salema knew that the odds of joining the ranks of the rich and famous are slim. So she spearheaded various initiatives that prepare kids for the realization that not everyone ends up on stage or in professional sports.

Salema established many programs at the Surfside School since 1995, including the school’s Young Entrepreneurship Program. During their first venture, the students redesigned their school uniforms to create a more fashionable and affordable school attire, naming their clothing line, “Surfside Gear”.

She also initiated the schools first Student Government and Leadership Academy and developed the schools performing arts program. Moreover, she writes, co-produces and co-directs their annual drama and dance productions.

Salema was appointed as assistant principal of PS 329 in 1998, and became principal in 2008.

Salema believes that all of her students posses a unique talent, and encourages them to “never surrender their dreams,” and strives to ensure that each of them will have the confidence needed to reach their potential. She is most proud of the integral part she and her committed staff have played in establishing the Surfside School into what many have referred to as, “Coney Island’s best-kept secret.”

Don Everette Marbury, a successful entrepreneur and business owner grew up in Coney Island. He is also a parent coordinator at Public School 18 in Staten Island. Don was born into a basketball dynasty. He and his brothers were local legends and star hoopsters at Lincoln HS. In fact, the Marbury’s are the only American family to have five brothers play division-one college basketball.

“Sky Pup” was a 6-foot-3 guard with a remarkable shot. He led the Southwest Conference in scoring with Texas A&M in 1986, but went undrafted. In 1987, Don was recruited to play professional basket-ball in Malta. His professional career lasted only one year due to a knee injury, and in 1988 Don returned home to complete his college education.

In 1993 Don received his Bachelor of Integrated Studies Degree from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. His mission to inspire and educate Coney Island’s youth began that same year when he was hired as the assistant physical education director of the Coney Island Boys and Girls Club.

His dedication to our youth deepened when he accepted a physical education teaching position at PS 288 in 1995, and assisted his younger brother, former NBA star, Stephon Marbury with establishing The Team Marbury Charitable Foundation in 1996.

As president of Team Marbury, Don organizes numerous community events, including the annual Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair Basketball Classics, the annual Stephon Marbury Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway, Starbury Giveback Day, the Stephon Marbury Summer Read to Achieve Program, and Star Cuts-Free Haircuts.

Don’s commitment to community initiatives is undying. He works tirelessly to enrich the lives of young people and their families throughout Brooklyn and abroad.

So now that I’ve unveiled Coney Island’s best kept secret, the dynamic duo of Salema and Don Marbury, you understand why BWECC chose this incredibly devoted and tireless activist couple as its Couple of the Year, who will be feted at the El Caribe on March 22.

Individually they can easily serve as icons, role models for our youth. Together they have set a criterion of excellence hard to achieve. Congratulations Salema and Don!

Screech at you next week!

Carmine Santa Maria can hand out awards if he feels like it. He's earned that right. Read him every Saturday on, and then send him an e-mail at

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