Sydney Schwartz was an early childhood educator who spent her career at the City University of New York. We honor her legacy with two tributes from our colleagues.
A tribute from Sherry Copeland
Dr. Sydney Schwartz, a highly respected educator in the field of Early Childhood Education, passed away on Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Sydney graduated from Teacher’s College at Columbia University with an Ed.D. in 1965. Throughout her lifetime she influenced both curriculum and policy in the field of early childhood education. She acted as one of the first presidents of the New York State Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators; Dean, Chair, and Professor Emerita at Queens College; and University Director of Teacher Education for the City University of New York. Her scholarship focusing on strengthening content in early childhood programs has spanned over half a century. Her professional activities included evaluating NYC-funded early childhood programs, co-directing the CUNY Literacy Enhancement Project, and chairing the CUNY task force to redesign the clinical component of Teacher Education for Middle States. Dr. Schwartz was the author of many articles, chapters in books, and books dealing with the early childhood curriculum, most recently one on Connecting Emergent Curriculum and Standards in the Early Childhood Classroom. She worked closely with NYC public schools, influencing curriculum and policy for thousands of teachers across several decades. She loved to collect children’s books from around the world, attend productions of the ballet and concerts at Carnegie Hall, spend time with friends and family, travel, and celebrate the beauty in the world. Dr. Schwartz will live on through her work and her teaching in the field as well as through the lives of all those she has mentored.
A tribute from Patsy Cooper
To know Sydney Schwartz as a friend, colleague, researcher, or educational leader was to know a force of nature in the flesh. Nothing – or no one – she touched remained the same afterward. And all were better for the encounter, even if her characteristic directness or incredibly sharp mind could sometimes take your breath away. I knew Sydney, first, through her research on teaching young children mathematics, including her controversial stand on the ubiquitous preschool classroom calendar. What researcher but Sydney would think to argue with the seemingly innocuous calendar activity? Of course, she was right. Her recent work on emergent curriculum and standards (often in collaboration with Sherry Copeland) is a goldmine for any teacher educator who wants to ensure students make peace between the two in an applied and intelligent way. I got to know Sydney personally after I came to Queens College, CUNY, to direct the programs in early childhood education. Although retired from the college by then, she continued to teach an ECE curriculum course each semester and I looked forward to her weekly arrivals so we could talk shop. An important endnote to her professional generosity was the time and energy she spent with my colleagues and me to help craft and re-craft a sustainable and meaningful approach to preparing students for edTPA. This is but one of the quiet ways her legacy will live on.