Former Brearley Leader Returns as Interim Head

The Brearley School’s trustees moved quickly on Friday to contain any damage from the abrupt resignation of its head of school, naming a former Brearley leader as interim head of school.

She is Priscilla Winn Barlow, a zoologist who led the prestigious girls’ school on the Upper East Side from 1997 to 2003, when she retired. In a letter e-mailed to “members of the Brearley community,” the president of the board, Alan K. Jones, praised Dr. Winn Barlow as a “wise, warm and witty educator who so ably guided Brearley through a period of sustained development and improvement.”

She replaces Stephanie J. Hull, whose departure on Thursday, with no notice, shocked parents and alumni.

Calls to Dr. Hull, who is taking a yearlong sabbatical that she was eligible for during her tenure but skipped, were not returned Thursday night, and a spokesman for Brearley could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Winn Barlow, who is British, was Brearley’s 13th head of school, according to the letter from Mr. Jones, and had previously served as an administrator at Milton Academy in Boston and Havergal College, a girls’ school in Toronto.

“During her original tenure as head of school,” Mr. Jones wrote, “Priscilla thoughtfully and successfully led the school through a series of important initiatives that bolstered Brearley’s educational leadership in science, expanded the use of technology throughout the school, provided students with substantially more curricular flexibility and choice, and sharpened the school’s focus on important issues of diversity and community.”

He attached a chapter about her from a Brearley history book, which described her as “a natural” who “focused her delightfully low-key attention on the quality of a student’s life at a high-powered school.” It notes that students loved to imitate her high-pitched voice and mentions her “zany persona.”

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Pronouncing the Unpronounceable

A few weeks back, we wrote about the myriad ways to pronounce, and mispronounce, the Van Wyck Expressway and offered to track down correct pronunciations for New York place names that reduce readers to guesswork or mumbling.

While Van Siclen Avenue in Brooklyn, Zerega Avenue in the Bronx and Dieterle Crescent in Queens all made the list, the most requested tongue-trippers included Spuyten Duyvil, along with Kosciuszko and Goethals (as in bridge).

For those three, we went to the experts — native speakers of the mother tongue in question — for a quick language lesson.

Ewa Zadworna understands why non-Polish speakers may have trouble correctly pronouncing the name for the 1939 truss bridge that links Greenpoint in Brooklyn to Maspeth, Queens.

Spanning Newton Creek, the Kosciuszko Bridge is named for Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an American Revolution military hero. While trapped in traffic on the section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that bears his moniker, you have time to imagine every possible way to mangle saying this name out loud should you ever be asked for directions.

“The trick is there are many consonants that do not exist in the English language,” said Ms. Zadworna, who hails from Krakow and works in public affairs for Polish consulate.

She then blurted out something that sounded to us like “kash-CHOOV-ska,” said very quickly.

Of course, this isn’t an exact science — different article in The New York Times even list slightly different pronunciation guides, and different native speakers pronounce words differently.

In the Bronx, the streets are lined with tricky titles, including Lyvere Street, Lowerre Place, Fteley Avenue and Schieffelin Avenue.

But the one that a reader went as far as to call a “nemesis” is the Spuyten Duyvil area in Riverdale.

The name comes from the Dutch “Spuit den Duyvil,” which translates to, among other things, “the devil’s spout.”

The name was bestowed by 17th-century Dutch settlers on a now-extinct waterway separating the northern tip of Manhattan from the Bronx mainland, according to the Web site of the Spuyten Duyvil branch of the New York Public Library.

The correct pronunciation is “SPY-ten DYE-vil,” said Arthur Kibbelaar, consul for press and cultural affairs at the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who went on to thumb through the book “Exploring Dutch New York” looking for other names.

Brooklyn, for example, is a Dutch name that when Mr. Kibbelaar pronounced it the old-school way, sounded like “brrrrrooklyn,” with rolling “Rs”.

Brooklyn also happens to be the birthplace of the civil engineer George Washington Goethals, the son of Flemish immigrants whose name graces the Goethals Bridge, which since 1928 has linked Staten Island to Elizabeth, N.J.

Flemings are particularly proud of Goethals, best known for supervising the construction of the Panama Canal, said Kris Dierckx, director of Flanders House, a Flemish cultural outpost in New York.

Mr. Dierckx pronounced Goethals with a soft “g.” It sounded almost like “HOOT-huls.”

He also noted that there was an effort under way to name a Manhattan street after another famous Fleming: St. Damien of Molokai, who worked with lepers in 19th-century Hawaii.

Not that Damien Street will be a cinch to say: it’s actually pronounced “Daum-e-aun.”

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By the Bay, a Berth to Rest and to Mingle

Neighborhood Joint

A series of articles profiling favorite local haunts.
What’s your neighborhood joint?

Everyone savors those “only in New York” moments: watching the Nathan’s hot-dog-eating contest in Coney Island or spotting a movie star in a restaurant in Manhattan. But another, equal pleasure is often overlooked: the “I can’t believe I’m still in New York” moment.

Kayaking on the tranquil waters of Jamaica Bay on a summer afternoon feels like a faraway vacation. It’s easy to forget your proximity to Wall Street, or even to Cross Bay Boulevard, which slices through the water to the island community of Broad Channel, Queens. Along the canals that run like side streets through this tiny neighborhood, people are quick with a smile and a wave. As the disco classic “Funkytown” blasted from a party on one porch, a duck, a goose and a great egret calmly observed from a nearby railing.

While Broad Channel has long had a reputation as a place wary of outsiders, you’re treated like a lifelong neighbor when you return your rented kayak to the Sunset Marina.

Read the full article »

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Ad for Subway (Sandwiches) Went a Step Too Far

Concerned, perhaps, that the contrails of atmospheric exhaust were not reaching prospective patrons as far away as the Avenue of the Americas intersection, the operators of the Subway restaurant at 31 West 43rd Street planted their flag firmly on the avenue itself.

An impromptu signpost advertising $5 “footlong” sandwiches was standing until Thursday on the northeast corner of the intersection. (If the sign were a sandwich, it would have been about $20 long — or tall.)

There are a number of problems with this marketing campaign, not the least of which is that the city’s Administrative Code states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to erect any post or pole in any street unless under a permit or revocable consent of the commissioner” of transportation.

We asked the Department of Transportation whether the Subway sign had been granted a permit or a revocable consent. A spokesman answered that an inspector had in fact determined that the sign violated the law and so informed the store manager, after which the sign was immediately removed. So now we’ll have to depend on our nostrils again to find its sandwiches.

Subway’s press office has so far declined to respond to an e-mailed inquiry about the sign.

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