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Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

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Siegel, Stefanie, 2010 April 19

Biographical / Historical

Stefanie Siegel was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1951. She attended high school in Maryland, and after a decade of working and searching for the right opportunities, she attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She also has degrees from the University of Chicago and the City University of New York. Siegel began teaching English in the New York City Public School System in 1987. After teaching at Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School for a time, she began teaching at Paul Robeson High School in 1991. In addition to teaching there, she was the Coordinator of Student Affairs/Senior Advisor and joined a student-led group organized to save the school from permanent closure. Siegel founded Bailey's Cafe in 2002. The organization, which she also heads as Executive Director, is built on a doctrine of intergenerational learning. After a fundraising campaign, the non-profit moved to a permanent home at 324 Malcolm X Boulevard in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2015.

Scope and Contents

Stefanie Siegel begins her interview by describing the work of Dr. Marcia Lyles, a principal at Paul Robeson High School in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Dr. Lyles is credited with transforming the school, and Siegel contrasts it with her prior experience as a teacher at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood. Siegel looks at the larger picture of Robeson High's challenges to remain open to students during the Mayoral administration's attempts to phase out and consolidate some school districts. She talks about the changes she's seen over two decades in Crown Heights. Siegel describes the extracurricular efforts to engage students in intergenerational learning. This takes the form of a community organization named Bailey's Cafe. She advises students on how to prepare for senior year and how to be involved with their school and set standards for peers. She recalls her experience as a high school and college student; and how the latter prepared her to lead Bailey's Café. Interview conducted by Floyya Richardson, Treverlyn Dehaarte and Alex Kelly.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact

Subject Names

  • Rosenbaum, Yankel
  • Siegel, Stefanie

Subject Organizations

  • Erasmus Hall High School
  • New York (N.Y.). Department of Education
  • Paul Robeson High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education, Higher -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Haitians -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Intergenerational relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Riots -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)