Legendary teacher and principal Jack Abrams, who founded Huntington UFSD’s School Heritage Museum to preserve artifacts and share the history of the district and later became an essential component of that same history has passed away.
“Jack is a true Huntington icon,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “He played a significant role in writing Huntington’s history and touched many lives during an illustrious career. His passion for teaching and all things Huntington is widely known and was always so incredibly appreciated
Jack Abrams was the founding curator of Huntington's School Heritage Museum.
After 25 years as curator of Huntington’s School Heritage Museum, Mr. Abrams retired in June 2012. Beloved by current and former students alike, his more than half-a-century record of service to the community was recognized when the Huntington School Board voted to rename Huntington Intermediate School in his honor, effective July 1, 2008.
The formal dedication came during a ceremony held in September of that year. A crowd of about 300 gathered in front of the building to pay tribute to a man who gave his heart to the Huntington School District.
“The Heritage Museum in Huntington High School was a labor of love for Jack many years into his retirement,” Mr. Polansky said. “He could readily tell you the story associated with just about every item on display. Jack’s spirit will remain alive in Huntington indefinitely. And the district will remain ever grateful for his contributions and the memories he helped to create over the decades.”
Born during the Great Depression, Mr. Abrams attended Andrew Jackson High School in St. Albans, Queens. After serving in the U.S. Army Special Service and Signal Corps in Korea and graduating from New Paltz Teacher’s College with a B.S. in Education, he began his career at the Newbridge Road School in North Bellmore before joining the Huntington school family in 1955. Along the way he added advanced degrees from Hofstra and Columbia universities.
The first of many assignments saw Mr. Abrams work as a sixth grade teacher at Woodbury Avenue Grammar School. As the years unfolded, his Huntington career included stints as elementary science coordinator and principal of Nathan Hale, Woodbury Avenue, Washington, Village Green, Toaz/Finley’s sixth grade school and Woodhull.
In 1975 Mr. Abrams initiated the unique sixth grade outdoor education program that annually sees hundreds of students trekking to Camp Greenkill for four days and three nights of hands-on educational activities. He even spent a year teaching fifth grade in Great Britain with the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program. Another year was spent as a third grade teacher in Northport while on a sabbatical from Huntington.
Mr. Abrams served the last six years of his career as principal of Jefferson Elementary School before officially retiring in 1987. It wasn’t long before he was busy establishing the district’s museum, which today is filled with more than 1,500 items.
After a 57 year association with the district, Mr. Abrams decided it was time to slow down a little bit and stop pushing himself so hard. He retired from his part-time curator post in June 2012. He had a winter home in Florida along with his permanent residence in East Northport and he wanted to enjoy both without the demands of the School Heritage Museum post. He later moved to Nevada to be near one of his daughters.
“Jack really was a true inspiration to those of us who love this school district and its past and present,” said Joseph Leavy, chairman of humanities, 7-12. “He had an enthusiasm and tireless energy in his prime and thereafter. He was always looking for a story to tell to inform and entertain and those who listened were bound to learn, laugh and reminisce. Just walk through the School Heritage Museum at Huntington High School and everything displayed in there had a ‘Jack story’ behind it. This attitude and life view deserves preservation. His mission deserves preservation.”