African American Studies
Ms. Milano and Ms. Singleton are the Principal and Vice Principal of P.S. 153 in the Co-op City section of the Bronx. Ms. Milano grandparents were born inItaly, but her parents were raised inAmerica. Ms. Milano’s father was born and raised on115th Streetand Hone and her mother was born and raised onBathgate Avenueand181st Street. Milano’s parents married and moved toGlover Street, nearWestchester AvenueandHavemeyer Avenue. After Ms. Milano was born, the family moved to thePelham Parkwaysection of theBronx. Ms. Singleton parents originate fromSouth Carolina. Her mother moved toCentral Islip,Long Islandand her father was living inHarlem. After Ms. Singleton’s parents were married, they moved toEast Harlemwhere Ms. Singleton was born, and after some relatives from the South migrated to theBronx, moved to the Morrisania section of theBronx. Ms. Milano attended Saint Francis Xavier Parish, near Morris Park Avenue from first grade to eighth grade andMotherMemorialHigh School, onPelham ParkwayandEastchester Road. Her elementary school classrooms were extremely large (in her first grade class there were fifty-five students in one class) and nuns and clerics ran the school. Her experiences in elementary school with her teachers made her want to be a teacher. Ms. Singleton attended Our Lady of Angels elementary school inEast Harlemfrom first grade through eight in the mid-seventies until the eighties andCathedralHigh School, on Manhattan East 56th Street. Many of the friends she made in High School and still keeps in touch with are from theBronxand live in theCo-opCityand Baychester sections of theBronx.
Ms. Milano’s parents and grandparents cooked mostly Italian food. When Ms. Milano was a teenager, her mother began changing Italian recipes to make them more healthy and preparing dishes that are more American. Ms. Singleton was raised on typical Southern cooking. Ms. Milano’s parents listened to music mostly from the forties and fifties, the big bands and Frank Sinatra. Her grandparents were more proper and played opera music, especially on Sundays. Ms. Milano grew up listening to “the original rock and rollers”, such as Elvis Presley and The Platters of the fifties and sixties. Ms.Milano was a teenager when “The Beatles” came to America. She appreciated both her generation’s music and the music her parents played in the house all the time. Ms. Singleton’s mother listened to music from Motown era, such as Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and James Brown and her father listened to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Ms. Singleton however preferred eighties music and she grew up in the hip-hop generation of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
(The rest of the interview was conducted by students from P.S. 159.) Ms. Milano’s favorite subject was in the language arts and Ms. Singleton’s favorite subjects were in Social Studies and Drama. Both ladies have a Masters degree. Ms. Milano’s favorite teacher was her fourth grade teacher Ms. Giacoia because she took a genuine interest in her students and spent a lot of time with them after class. Ms. Singleton’s favorite teacher was her fifth grade teacher Ms. Lyon because she was one of the cool, inspirational teachers. Ms. Milano always wanted to be a teacher and was a teacher for twenty-five years before she decided to become Vice-Principal. Ms. Singleton however always wanted to be a lawyer and did not want to become a teacher because children would not listen. Upon her mother’s advice however, she decided to try teaching for a year and has been teaching for fourteen years because she enjoys working with children. Ms. Milano learned some Spanish in High School and learned some Italian at home. Ms. Singleton learned Spanish and French in School. Ms. Milano’s mother was a homemaker and Ms. Singleton’s mother worked in education. Both of their mothers were loving and encouraged their daughters to do what they wanted with their lives. Another role model for Ms. Singleton was the actor Sidney Poitier in the movie To Sir With Love, about a teacher who inspired his students.
Ms. Milano watched The Lone Ranger, The Howdie Doodie Show, Hopalog Cassidy and Davy Crocket in her childhood. Ms. Singleton watched Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Donny and Marie Show and Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. Ms. Milano was uninterested in playing and watching sports as a child because she did not have good balance, but she did loved swimming, and Ms. Singleton played softball and basketball. Ms. Milano has not written any poetry in a long time because she became busy with other things, but she would love to start up again one day. Ms. Singleton prefers spoken word poetry and has on occasion performed it. Growing up Ms. Milano loved musicals such as Gigi and The Sound of Music, and Ms. Singleton loved action movies with Steve McQueen and kung fu movies with Bruce Lee. Ms. Milano’s hobbies included playing the piano, reading, going to the movies and visiting Freedom Land, an amusement park on Co-op City before everything was built and the land was still swampland. Ms. Singleton’s hobbies included reading, dancing, drama, roller skating, playing on the playground and watching television. When Ms. Milano attended school, the punishments included not being allowed to play outside at lunchtime, after-school detention, not being allowed to go to gym, and punishment lessons such as writing over a thousand times that the student would not do the forbidden action again. One of the offenses Ms. Milano’s peers would be punished for was not having their white gloves (a mandatory part of their uniform). Ms. Singleton’s schools had similar punishments concerning uniforms, but her nuns carried around two paddles to punish the students (one for the boys and one for the girls) and if a student was in big trouble, they had to wait on the long green bench outside the principal’s office. Ms. Milano’s family went toNew Rochellea lot for the movie theaters and Italian restaurants in the neighborhood. When Ms. Milano was young there was no fast food chains like McDonald’s or Burger King, but there was White Castle.
Milano and Singleton. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
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