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Spotlight on Educators: Hazel Monestel


Hazel Monestel teaching class in 1968.

Born, raised, and educated in Roslyn, Hazel (Woodin) Monestel (1892-1986) taught three generations of Roslynites during her 48-year teaching career in Roslyn Public Schools. A kindergarten teacher at the Heights School between 1920 and 1950, Hazel continued as Kindergarten and Head Teacher at the (now closed) Highlands School until her retirement in 1968. She was remembered by many in the community for her “warm and wise way of easing the transition into kindergarten, and the manner in which she opened the world of learning to them in her kindergarten classroom.” In 1966 she received Hofstra University’s “Eddy Award'' in recognition of her “significant contribution to education on Long Island” in 1966. A former principal recalled Hazel as “warm and motherly” and that “walking down local streets with her was like taking a stroll with the Pied Piper.”


Born in 1892, Hazel Monestel was the younger daughter of iceman and Justice of the Peace, Charles C. Woodin. She lived with her parents and older sister in a house on West Shore Road and attended Roslyn Public Schools through her high school graduation in 1912.

Hazel as a young child outside of her family's home on West Shore Road c. 1900

Hazel attended the School of Kindergarten Training at Pratt Institute and taught at an orphanage in Utica, New York for several years before returning to Roslyn. During the summer of 1916, she volunteered at the temporary hospital in the Valentine House that was set up by the Roslyn Neighborhood Association to care for local children suffering from Infantile Paralysis (Polio).

Nurses and polio patients on the lawn of the Valentine House in 1916. Hazel Monestel, 3rd from left.

She began teaching kindergarten at the Heights School in the Fall of 1920.


Hazel summed up her long career as an educator with the following words:

“I feel that each of my years has been a year which has broadened by education, my understanding of little children, and certainly my love and interest in every child that I have been fortunate enough to have in one of my many groups.”

In 1972, Bryant Library librarian Helen Glannon conducted an oral history interview with Hazel where she speaks more about her career and shares other memories of early 20th century Roslyn. Clips from the interview can be found on our oral histories page, along with other selections from our "Everyday Voices" collection.

 

Look out for Part II of our Spotlight on Educators back-to-school series on Village School teacher and author of Roslyn, Then and Now, Roy Moger.

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