June 26, 2013
By Dr. Leonard Golubchick, Adjunct Professor, Metropolitan College of New York, St. john’s University and Long Island University
On Sunday June 9, 2013 there was a tribute to Sophie Gerson at New York University which was attended by over 300 members of the community. On this occasion the newly formed Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth Foundation awarded scholarships to young scholar athletes so they can attend summer camps and programs at the National Dance Institute, the Julian Krinsky Tennis Camp and Hoop Group Camp.
Sophie’s dearest cause was the health and fitness of children. She devoted her life to teaching physical education, Dance and Health Education. Sophie promoted the athleticism of young women, which placed her as leader in this area, far ahead of Title IX programming.
On this occasion tributes towards Sophie inspiring life was given by Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Scott Stringer, former Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Council Members Jessica Lappin, Margaret Chin, Leticia James and Judge Kathryn Freed as well as long time Vice-President and Board Member of the UFT, Abe Levine. A letter from Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read celebrating Sophie’s dedication to the children of New York and as a Community Activitist.
Sophie Gerson was one of the pioneers in establishing the United Federation of Teachers. Sophie was a Chapter Leader and a UFT Delegate for many years.
She was a beloved mother of two children.. Her son, Alan J. Gerson was a two term Council Member representing Council District One. Sophie and Herman Gerson shared over 56 years of marriage.
After retiring, Sophie was elected overwhelming to the Board of Community School District 2. She was also President of her local ORT Chapter; she served on the commission which drafted the prototype for the City’s Decentralization Law; Sophie was appointed by C. Viriginia Fields to the Public Library Advisory Commission and the screening panel to select the Borough’s President’s designee to the central Board of Education. As a leader in her community Sophie was selected by the Al Gore campaign to serve as a delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. In addition, Congregation Emunath Israel honored her with their Woman of Valor Award in recognition of her service to the Jewish Community.
As a tribute to Sophie Gerson’s long incredible career as a New York Educator The Professional Performing Arts School’s Principal, Keith Ryan, has named their dance studio the Sophie Gerson Dance studio and placed a plaque at the entrance.