Hall of Fame Class of 2010

Teacher, guidance counselor, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent

For 39 years, the City School District of Albany was John Bach’s life.

Bach started teaching in 1955 at what was then called Hackett Junior High. He became a guidance counselor at Albany High School in 1962, when the school was still located on North Lake Avenue, and became its principal in 1967. He was a key player in the 1973 move to combine the former Philip Schuyler High School and Albany High School into the single facility that is today’s Albany High.

He was Albany High’s principal for nearly 20 years, and in 1986 was appointed deputy superintendent for the district. Three years later, he became superintendent of schools. He continued to lead the district until his retirement in 1994.

He was the impetus behind the creation of magnet school programs in the district and oversaw the establishment of the Albany School of Humanities, the Montessori Magnet School and the Thomas O'Brien Academy of Science and Technology. He also was particularly proud of bringing Chinese language instruction to the high school and introducing preschool programs in the district

Academics, he believed, were the foundation of a strong school. However, he also understood the importance athletics can play in the development young people’s self-esteem and self-discipline.  He spent countless evenings and weekends attending sporting events.

John Bach knew thousands of students by name. His genuine affection and enthusiasm for the district was obvious in the hallways and on the playing field.

He remained active in the community after his 1994 retirement, actively serving on the boards of several non-profit groups.  Notably, he served on the Albany Public Library Board of Trustees from 1987 until his 2007 death.  As library board president, he spearheaded the drive to renovate the library system that serves Albany students and their families.

Teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, interim superintendent, deputy superintendent and author

Eleanor Bartlett began her career in Albany's public schools in 1971 as a summer-school teacher. When she retired 27 years later, she was deputy superintendent, New York State Regent Emeritus and author. In the intervening years, she devoted her life to young people in the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, and local colleges.

She was a special-education teacher and assistant principal at Philip Livingston Junior High School. She also was a reading teacher at the former School 25. The following year she taught special education at Albany High School and later became acting house principal.

Later she became principal at Albany School of Humanities (ASH) and her work there led to her to being named Principal of the Year in 1994 by the Greater Capital Region Principals Center. Under her leadership, ASH was named as a school of excellence in the New York State Education Department’s Blue Ribbon Schools program.

Bartlett became the executive assistant to the superintendent in 1994. In 1996 she became assistant superintendent for human resources and program development. She became interim superintendent, and finished her career as deputy superintendent in 1998.

She received numerous awards for her longtime efforts on behalf of Albany students, including a 1997 Outstanding Achievement in Education award from the NAACP and 1998 Woman of Excellence award from the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Even after retirement she remained active supporting causes devoted to children and education.

In 1999 she was appointed to a five-year term as a member of the New York State Board of Regents. She stepped down from that post a year later to become principal of New Covenant Charter School, where subsequently she became a board member and board president. She has served as advisor to prospective teachers at The College of Saint Rose, and was director of mentoring for the Albany-Troy Sponsor-A-Scholar program.

Also, she is co-author of two children's books, “Friday, a Dog’s Tale,” which was published in 2008, and "Friday's Gifts," published in the summer of 2010. As part of their mission to encourage learning and the love of reading, she and her co-author have donated more than 1,000 books to children.

Philip Schuyler High School Class of 1925

Olympic boxing coach, high school football coach, teacher, principal

In Ben Becker’s mind, there were no problem kids. Just kids with problems.

Born in New York City and raised in Albany, Becker graduated from Philip Schuyler High School in 1925. He was the only one of six siblings to graduate from college – Cortland State Teachers College in 1928 and New York University in 1934.

Becker was a scrappy boxer who fought when the line between amateur and professional boxing was invisible. While at Cortland, he boxed, coached freshman boxing and was appointed chairman of the Amateur Athletic Union Adirondack District.

He was head of the AAU for 50 years. During that time, he helped develop the career of Sugar Ray Robinson and coached Muhammed Ali to a 1960 gold medal in the light-heavyweight division.  Becker’s love for boxing took him across oceans and continents as coach of U.S. boxing teams.

But he always said that education was his first love.

Becker returned to his Philip Schuyler alma mater in 1930 as an athletic coach. He stayed for two years before he returned to school at NYU.  He came back home to be a phys ed teacher and coach, and eventually became vice principal and principal of Philip Schuyler.  

One of the first practitioners of “tough love,” Becker used a combination of discipline and unwavering support of students. One colleague referred to him as “a hard disciplinarian with a soft heart.” Indeed, whether comforting a distraught parent, giving his own winter coat to a student who came to school without one or keeping a closetful of prom dresses for less fortunate students, Becker touched the lives of thousands of Albany students until his 1970 retirement.

Becker’s work extended beyond our schools, too.  He co-founded the Big Brothers of Albany chapter during the 1950s and also was vice president of the Albany County Cerebral Palsy Association.  He also founded and was president of Camp Nassau in Guilderland.  He died in 1987 at the age of 80.

 

Albany High School Class of 1979 

Award-winning actress and singer

A career in theater was not in Carolee Carmello’s plans.

She thought she would take her business administration degree from the state University of New York at Albany, go into corporate personnel management and eventually go to law school.

That changed her senior year in college after a summer job doing dinner theater in Lake George. Even then, she thought she’d give acting a try and see if worked out.

It worked out.

Twenty-five years later, Carmello is one of the most successful actresses to graduate from Albany High School. A leading lady in several Broadway productions, she earned an Obie Award, two Tony Award nominations and several other awards during her career.

Her acting bio is extensive: 11 Broadway shows, including Mamma Mia and Funny Girl; seven off-Broadway shows, including Elegies; and four national tours, including Les Miserables. She performed in a dozen regional theater shows, including one at the Berkshire Theater Festival.

She’s also been featured on Another World, As the World Turns, Frasier, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Remember W.E.N.N.

Today Carmello shares the stage with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth in the Broadway production of The Addams Family.  She plays the role of Alice Beinekes. The play opened in April to rave reviews and won a Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite New Broadway Musical.

Albany High School Class of 1950

Journalist, author, publisher, corporate executive, philanthropist

Robert Danzig got his first taste of a newsroom at age 16, when he became a copy boy for the Albany Times Union. Nineteen years later he was publisher of the Times Union and Knickerbocker News, and later he became CEO of the Heart Corporation – a position he held for two decades.

Not bad for a kid who grew up in five different foster homes.

Early in his career he attended Siena College at night while he worked during the day. He graduated with honors and continued his ascent in the world of journalism. He later received Siena’s award for outstanding career achievement and in 1977 the college conferred upon him an honorary Ph.D. He also was awarded one of 12 professional journalism fellowships at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif, the only business executive ever to be accepted into the program.

After his career at Hearst, Danzig began a second career as an author, leadership guru and motivational speaker. He is currently dean of Hearst Management Institute -- the corporation's executive-learning program. He is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the tri-state chapter of the National Speakers Association, and in 2007 was inducted into the speakers’ Hall of Fame.

All his speaking fees and book royalties are donated to charity. He also has devoted tremendous time and dollars to programs that help foster children.

Also a civic leader, Danzig has served on the boards of directors for Albany Medical College, Siena College, Russell Sage College, St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany Institute of History and Art, Caldwell College, and on the executive committee of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.  

Albany High School Class of 1959

Composer, music professor

A state aptitude test Adolphus Hailstork took as a kid indicated that he’d be good in music.

The test was right. Hailstork started on the violin in fourth grade, then switched to piano, organ and choir. At Albany High School he conducted a boys’ choral group and started composing.  Then-orchestra teacher Gertrude Howarth told him the orchestra would play whatever he wrote. And 53 years later, he’s still composing.

Hailstork went to Howard University after high school, where he studied with Mark Fax. Later, he completed studies at the Manhattan School of Music under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond and the American Institute at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger. He received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where he was a student of H. Owen Reed.

Hailstork has written in a variety of genres, producing works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, and orchestra. His early compositions include Celebration, recorded by the Detroit Symphony in 1976; and two works for band (Out of the Depths, 1977, and American Guernica, 1983), both of which won national competitions. Consort Piece (1995), commissioned by the Norfolk Chamber Ensemble, was awarded first prize by the University of Delaware’s Festival of Contemporary Music.

Hailstork’s works have been performed by such prestigious ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, under the batons of leading conductors such as James DePreist, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel.

His recent commissions include Earthrise, a large-scale choral work premiered by James Conlon and the 2006 Cincinnati May Festival; Three Studies on Chant Melodies for the American Guild of Organists; 2006 National Convention; and Whitman’s Journey, a cantata for chorus and orchestra, premiered by the Master Chorale of Washington, D.C. (under Donald McCullough) at the Kennedy Center in April 2006.

Other premieres included Rise for Freedom, an opera about the Underground Railroad by the Cincinnati Opera Company in fall 2007; Serenade for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by Michigan State University  in spring 2008; and Set Me on a Rock, also for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Houston Choral Society.

Hailstork, who has received honorary doctorates from Michigan State University and the College of William and Mary, resides in Virginia Beach, Va. He serves as professor of music and eminent scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

Albany High School Class of 1998

Associate Director of Annual Giving; former Big East basketball standout

Becky Gottstein is one of the most remarkable student-athletes to pass through the halls of Albany High School.

During her four years at Albany High, Gottstein was an honor student and all-around athlete. She was rookie of the year in soccer and a two-time softball MVP. But it was her powerhouse basketball skills that in 1997 led the Lady Falcons to their first regional and New York State Class A title.  During 1997-98 she was a Big 10 conference MVP and a Class A MVP and named player of the year by the Times Union, the Troy Record, Schenectady Gazette and NewsChannel 13.

Her intense personal motivation made her a dream to coach and she had a knack for raising the standards and expectations of everyone around her, said a former coach. You could see the love, the passion, the intensity and determination she had for the team and for the game of basketball.

Gottstein always took time to praise her teammates and give credit to her families and coaches, and spent many hours volunteering her time and expertise to help young girls learn basketball at youth hoops clinics and camps.

The 6’1” forward went onto play basketball at Boston College, where as a freshman she was named to Big East all-rookie team.  As a junior, she made the All-Big East second team. She was BC’s leading scorer her junior year and through the beginning of her senior year, when she was permanently sidelined with stress fractures. Among BC’s elite, she ranks third in rebounds (645), ninth in free throws made (235), ninth in free throws attempted (337) and tenth in points (1045).

Gottstein graduated in 2002 from BC’s Lynch School of Education. After a teaching stint at St. John’s Prep – where she met her husband – she returned to BC. She now serves as the associate director for annual giving in BC’s Office of University Advancement.

Philip Schuyler High School Class of 1969

Teacher, coach, athlete, civic leader

Milton Horne was a four-year starter on Philip Schuyler High School’s basketball team. His talent on the court led to a full scholarship to New Mexico State University, where he was an All-American and played in the NCAA Division I Final Four.

And 40 years later, he and his teammates on the winning 1969-70 NMSU team were inducted in the Citizen’s Bank Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame and Horne himself in 2009 became a charter member of the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame.

Horne went on to earn a degree in physical education at Centenary College and returned home to Albany to become a beloved coach, teacher and community leader.

He taught and coached at the former Street Academy and Harriet Gibbons High School, where he coaxed his Streakers basketball teams to respectable performances despite the fact that some years he barely had enough students to make a team.  Alongside his school teaching and coaching, Horne spent two decades as a Little League coach in Arbor Hill; one of the baseball fields in Krank Park bears his name. His students in the classroom and on the court and field saw him as a great teacher and motivator.

Along the way Horne discovered an affinity for building and construction. He eventually operated a construction company that restored and renovate property throughout Arbor Hill. His work included renovating several homes in Arbor Hill and the Little League facility at Krank Park. He also built Robin Day Care Center on Second Street, New Covenant Charter School and helped in the construction of the Public Safety Building on Henry Johnson Boulevard.

He died in 2001 at the age of 52. The 2002 Harriet Gibbons yearbook was dedicated to him, and a former student wrote this:

“He made people laugh and smile. He was a great guy to be around. Milton gave you good grades and good comments on your report card. But if you gave him a hard time, he would give you a hard time back. But there was no reason to give him a hard time. Milton had many people who cared about him and loved being around him. He helped anyone who needed help.”

Albany High School Class of 1982

Athlete, athletic director, student advocate, administrator

Robert “Bubba” Koonce distinguished himself in football as a freshman at Albany High School. He certainly looked like a football player; his 6’2,” 230-pound frame and the nickname “Bubba” helped complete the image. And as a middle guard he helped Albany High win a Section II title and was a leader in the heyday of Falcon football.

He was an excellent student, too – one whose personality was as large and generous as his physical size.

Koonce earned a full scholarship to Union College, where he was a three-year starter at defensive tackle.  During four years at Union, the Dutchmen three times were NCAA playoff teams, including first round, semis and the Stagg Bowl title game.  He helped transform the college’s dormant football program into a national powerhouse.

Koonce stayed on at Union after graduation as the assistant admissions dean and head of minority recruitment until 1988, when he left for the University of Michigan to complete a master’s degree in higher education administration.

Academics and athletics remained a focus over the next several years while he worked with athletes at the University of Pennsylvania, Tulane University and the University of Maryland.  While at Penn, Koonce created and launched an initiative “Have Laptop, Will Travel” – a program that guaranteed every athlete a laptop computer so students could keep up with schoolwork while on the road.

He returned to the University of Michigan in 2004, this time as an academic advisor to students in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He quickly rose in the ranks to director of undergraduate student affairs in the school’s Bachelor of Business Administration Department.

Devoted to increasing college access to minority and poor students, he spearheaded an aggressive outreach program that brought students from the Detroit city schools onto the campus.  He also started a program that offers counseling and tutoring in economics, math and accounting. He advised, counseled and mentored countless students in and outside the walls of the Ross School of Business.

He died suddenly in November 2009. He was 45.

Board of Education member, former district employee, community volunteer

For almost 25 years, Wayne Morris has given his time, talent and effort to the City School District of Albany.

Described as “selfless,” “caring” and “always accessible,” Morris retired as head custodian at Abrookin Career and Technical Center after 17 years. While working, he also was an active member and union delegate to the Albany Public School United Educators and a member of the statewide Safety and Health Committee of New York State United Teachers.

Beyond his work, Morris volunteered countless hours on many district committees, including the Citizens Budget Committee, Calendar Committee, Transportation Committee and Shared Decision-Making Committee. He also was an original member of the Abrookin Center Advisory Board.

He was elected to the Albany schools’ Board of Education in 2005, and he has served since. But his sense of community extends beyond the inner workings of the district. He has been called a cheerleader for PTSAs – particular those to which he is board liaison: Albany High School, Albany School of Humanities (ASH), Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST). He is also known tireless advocate for children in the district.

Morris also volunteered in other capacities in the community, including as an associate youth basketball coach for the YMCA (1981-84), a baseball coach for Colonie Little League (1985-88) and a women’s softball coach. He was treasurer of the Retiree Golf League at Capital Hills Golf Course, and for six years chaired the golf scholarship fundraiser for Albany Public School Teachers Association.

Administrator, teacher, coach, athlete

Larry was born and raised in Albany, became a multi-sport star athlete at Christian Brothers Academy and attended the University of Notre Dame on an athletic scholarship, where he captained the baseball team and graduated cum laude.

He married Myrt Spencer, an Albany High School graduate, and they had four children. After serving in Wordl War II as a U.S. Navy airplane and dirigible pilot, and achieving the rank of lieutenant commander, he returned to Albany to his passion for education and athletics as a teacher and the basketball coach at Philip Schuyler High School.

He became one of the most successful and acclaimed coaches in Capital Region history and established a national reputation for his acumen and scouting skills in both basketball and baseball.

In 1966, he chose to end his 32-year coaching career to move up to the administrative level in the City School District of Albany. It was there he felt he could make a broader and more substantial contribution to the overall community and have a greater positive impact in the future. He was fulfilling that desire in the position of director of health and physical education right up until his untimely death in 1977 at age 64.

Teacher and union leader

Equality, fairness and respect are the hallmarks of Josephine Sano’s teaching and teacher advocacy.

As a teacher, she was a no-nonsense and highly informed professional from top to bottom. Her students left class with an understanding of day-to-day social studies that far exceeded anything provided by the textbooks of the day.

Teachers were drawn to her for her incisive and direct advice. She helped build confidence in her young colleagues and was never beyond having a heart-to-heart talk with an administrator to resolve a difficult issue.

From the start of her career, Sano was a believer in improving teaching and learning conditions using the collective bargaining process. She rose quickly to the position of president of the Albany Public School Teachers Association (APSTA). In this role, she changed forever the structure of the organization, transforming it from what she described as an “afternoon tea society” into a modern, forward-looking organization representing teachers. Under her leadership, APSTA took its place as a respected and full partner at the labor-management table without losing its focus on the best possible education for Albany’s children.

Serving as the first female president of and a 35-year delegate to the Albany County Central Federation of Labor was a source of pride for Sano. She also was the original Capital District VOTE-COPE coordinator, and longtime delegate to New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Over the years Sano received numerous awards, including the Bread and Roses Award from the Committee of Labor Union Women and Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the 2006 “Not for Ourselves Alone: The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award” from NYSUT.

Her indomitable spirit is best summed up by one of her favorite and frequently quoted phrases by Hubert Humphrey: “It is better to live one day as a tiger than to live a lifetime as a chicken.”

Sano died at the age of 97 on July 17, 2017

Albany High School Class of 1951

Teacher, coach, administrator

Mention the “Schuyler press” to followers of high school basketball and chances are you’ll hear Ron Sontz’ name.

Sontz – one of the winningest basketball coaches in Section II history -- joined the service after his Albany High graduation. He went on to more schooling at Ithaca College, where he graduated in 1959. He came home to Albany and immediately got hired as a physical education teacher at the former School #20. That same year he started coaching junior high soccer and basketball; subsequently he took led his teams to a total of six championships, three in each sport.

In 1962 he became assistant basketball coach at Philip Schuyler High. He went on to become head basketball coach in 1966, and he revolutionized the game by using full-, three-quarter and half-court defenses that created an instant offense.

Sontz’ seven years coaching Philip Schuyler High ended with an astounding 124-22 record. The 84.9% winning percentage still tops Section II for coaches with 100 or more wins.  He took his teams to three Class A titles, and in Sectionals, his teams took two Class A/B titles and four

In his three-plus decades in the district, he coached football, baseball, soccer and cross-country. But Sontz was far more than just a coach and teacher.  He also wore the hats of psychologist, social worker, disciplinarian and father to countless young people. He encouraged students and helped get them into college.

He stepped down from coaching in 1986 to become the district’s assistant director of health and physical education, a position from which he retired in 1995.

A former colleague said this: “Ron has always been about doing what is right, teaching all the life-changing effect we have as educators.” And one of his former students said that Sontz truly cared about every student and pushed them to excellence.

Teacher, theater director, playwright

John Velie studied play production at the University at Albany and Cornell University, where he received the A.M. Drummond Award for play direction. His original play, "The East Room," represented Cornell at the 1964 Yale Drama festival.

He went on to teach English and direct the theater program at Albany High School for three decades (1964-1994).

At the same time, he also served as founder and artistic director of such summer theaters as the Center Ensemble, Raggedy Ann's Kitchen (a children's theater), Shakespeare on the Plaza, Shakepeare in the Park and the Albany Public Theater.

Velie's year-round work in theater allowed him to bring together Albany High students with community and professional actors and technicians in summer theater. Two of his students who went on to fame are Tony Award nominee Charlayne Woodard (City School District of Albany Hall of Fame Class of 2009) and Director John McTiernan (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October and The Thomas Crown Affair, among others).

The real measure of the man, however, is the countless number of other students who learned what theater and performance were all about – and much more.

“He brought kids of all backgrounds and from everywhere in the city into the Drama Club. We looked up to him and would have done anything for him. He took us seriously and therefore, we took ourselves seriously,” a former student said.

Velie directed a wide variety of classic and contemporary plays, ranging from Sophocles to Shepard in indoor and outdoor venues as varied as the Empire State Plaza and Albany County Jail.