Celebration of Life – May 6, 2023
A celebration of the life of our beloved Elizabeth Ann Sciabarra was held on Saturday, May 6, 2023 from 3-5 p.m. in the Leonard Riggio ’58 Auditorium, Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
Elizabeth Ann Sciabarra—Ms. Ski or simply Ski to the thousands of students whose lives she touched as an educator for half a century and Liz to colleagues and friends — died on November 26, 2022 after a courageous two-year battle with illness.
Ski was the recipient of the Alumni Foundation’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Centennial Gala on November 19th, marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the opening of Brooklyn Technical High School. She was able to view the video of the presentation and was very deeply moved—a poignant coda to her lifelong, passionate commitment to the education and well-being of young people. Ski’s impact on the Brooklyn Tech community over her 50 years in education was immeasurable.
Mathew M. Mandery ‘61, EdD, Chief Educational Officer, and one of the founding members of the Alumni Foundation, was instrumental in her return to Tech, proudly offering Ski her first administrative position. “Liz personified the purpose, heart, and soul of Brooklyn Tech. She had boundless energy and gave unlimited time to the school community she loved. The footprints that Liz have left are large and many. She touched our lives in so many ways and she will always be remembered.”
Ski began her career as an apprentice teacher of English at Brooklyn Tech in 1971-1972, becoming beloved in the classroom and as Coordinator of Student Activities, founding coach of the cheerleading team, and Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services. Leaving Tech after 18 years to become principal of New Dorp High School on Staten Island, Liz went on to become Superintendent of Selective High Schools and to serve as Chief Executive of the Office of New School Development and Chief Executive of the Office of Student Enrollment Planning and Operations for the Department of Education.
After retiring from the DOE in 2010, Liz came home to Tech to become the longtime Executive Director of the Alumni Foundation, where she most recently served as Special Advisor. She continued to be deeply involved in student activities and the life of the school, co-founding Ruby Engineers as an organization celebrating the achievement and accomplishments of young women at Tech.
Keri Goldman ‘91, a former Brooklyn Tech cheerleader and NYC public school teacher, notes that “Ski was always a teacher, even after becoming an administrator” so she submitted Liz for inclusion on the UFT Honors website. Please see the tribute here.
At her NYC DOE retirement dinner in 2010, her brother Chris Sciabarra highlighted one of her favorite quotations, which she often used at commencement exercises. It could just as appropriately speak to her own impact and legacy. Noted historian Rina Swentzell (1939–2015) of Santa Clara Pueblo said: “What we are told as children is that people, when they walk on the land, leave their breath wherever they go. So, wherever we walk, that particular spot on the earth never forgets us, and when we go back to these places, we know that the people who have lived there are in some way still there, and that we can actually partake of their breath and of their spirit.”
Thousands of people – all the students she taught, advised, assisted, or coached; all the teachers, assistant principals, principals, parents, community partners and others with whom she interacted; and of course her cherished family and friends—have been blessed to partake of Ski’s indomitable spirit. Wherever she walked, people will be hard pressed to forget her and her impact on their lives.
While Liz did not have children of her own, she mothered thousands of New York City teenagers, whose lives were forever changed by their encounters with her. As her brother Chris noted, as a caring educator, in the eyes of those teens, Ski flew around New York City with a huge “S” on her chest, which could just as easily have stood for Superwoman as for Ski.
Liz was the daughter of Salvatore Charles Sciabarra and Ann Sciabarra and first in her extended family to receive a college degree. She is survived by her brothers Chris and Carl and sister-in-law Joanne. A public memorial will be held in 2023.
“Liz personified the purpose, heart, and soul of Brooklyn Tech. She had boundless energy and gave unlimited time to the school community she loved. The footprints that Liz have left are large and many. She touched our lives in so many ways and she will always be remembered.”
Mathew M. Mandery ‘61, EdD
Make a Tribute Gift
Please consider making a gift in Ms. Ski's memory by indicating Elizabeth Sciabarra in the tribute line of our secure online donation line.
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Dean K. Fong ’68, Esq., on behalf of the Fong and Lee Foundation, Inc. gifts $50,000 to fund awards called the Fong and Lee Research Stipends.more