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THE ROSENBAUM TUTORING SCHOOL
Michael Castroll (son of Kurenitz native)
At the turn of the century, New Haven was filled with hundreds of immigrant families, all with hopes and dreams to be fulfilled by a new life in a new world. The aspirations of these newcomers rested with their children, whose opportunities for a better life were not to be surpassed by their vision and flexibility to acclimate to their new surroundings. The Jewish immigrants were especially disadvantaged, because they still needed to overcome the pitfalls of a new society as well as the prejudices they had hoped to escape. Two of these families that provided so much to New Haven academia were the Cugells and the Rosenbaums. These two families were so closely intertwined that they seemed to be one family unit.
Samuel Barnell Rosenbaum was born in Russia, on December 28, 1885, the son of Solomon and Rebecca Rosenbaum. As a Freshman at Yale he received honorary mention in mathematics. He graduated the Yale Sheffield Scientific School as a civil engineer, in 1907. In 1913 he married Florence Ruth Cherkoss in Denver, Colorado. After her death, he married the former Helen Binenstock, from Philadelphia. After a lifelong career as director of the Milford School, he retired from active participation in 1942, and returned to Philadelphia, with his wife, where he died on October 27,1945. Once, the pillars of academic society, Sam and his cousin, Abel G. Cugell, now rest side-by-side, within the walls of the Ferncliff Crematory, in Ardsley, New York.
Harris Rosenbaum was born in Russia, on December 28, 1886. He first saw American shores when he came here, with his family, in 1895. They settled in New Haven, where other relatives had come a few years earlier. After matriculating from New Haven High School, he followed his brother, Sam, to Yale, where he graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School as a civil engineer with the Class of 1908.
It was while they attended Yale, that Sam and Harris Rosenbaum found their niche in life. In order to defer school expenses and keep the home front afloat, Sam and Harris filled a much need gap, by offering to tutor some of the star athletes on campus, whose province it was not to be scholastic geniuses. Gradually, they earned themselves a reputation, and these two budding engineers found themselves trading in their slide rules for the more lucrative business of teaching, when they opened the Rosenbaum Tutoring School in 1908. They found themselves an indispensable commodity, as the need for their tutorial skill s were very much in demand. The school was first established at 84 Wall Street, then next door, at 88 Wall Street. It closed its doors there, in 1920, when it found a more permanent location at 262 York Street.
In 1913 the brothers added a preparatory department, which grew so rapidly that by 1916 it required all of their time. In 1916 they established the Rosenbaum School, on the old William S. Pond estate, on Gulf Street, near New Haven Avenue in Milford. The name was officially changed to the Milford School by 1920. This new school was founded as a preparatory academy, while the New Haven institution continued its primary function as a tutoring school. The Milford location provided the proper atmosphere for learning, and was very accessible to the students. About 1924 they also started a branch in New York City, called the Milford School of New York, located in a big mansion, in upper Manhattan, on E. 80th Street. Apparently not too successful, the New York school closed after only one or two years.
More and more, the Rosenbaum brothers employed family members whenever they could. And there seemed to be an endless supply of relatives who were teachers and administrators, as well as those who were part of the clerical staff. Ironically, however, the Rosenbaums would have shuddered at the thought of practicing nepotism. They simply hired the best in their fields.
Both Harris and Sam were mathematical geniuses. Cousins Sidney L. Ross, Abel G. Cugell, and Joseph Alderman taught mathematics, Abraham S. Alderman taught English. Attorney Edward Glick taught history and economics, and Herman levy taught geology. He was the first graduate to be employed. Dr. Hyman Levin and Harold Egan taught science. Clerical and stenographic services were provided by Mrs. Molly White, Mrs. Gertrude Romanoff, and Miss Daisy Sinn, who was not without her own academic credentials, having attended the Yale Music School, Class of 1914. Her brothers, Sam and Ephraim, prepared for their years at Yale, attending classes both at Rosey’s and the Milford School.
Milford, in those days, provided a summer haven from the overcrowded cities, and the Rosenbaums were well acquainted with many of those whose summer cottages lined “Bagel Beach” and the Anchor. It was this kind of availability that prompted affluent families, such as the Sinns, to avail themselves of Rosey’s services, which gave every serious-minded student a chance to be a step ahead of the rest, as well as the stamina for a well0rounded learning experience. Since its beginning, the Milford school had a laboratory, dormitory, gymnasium, and tennis courts, as well as facilities for boating, swimming, baseball, skating, and hockey, to care for the students’ physical, as well as, mental well-being. It seemed that anyone who had the chance to attend classes at Rosey’s was almost destined to go to Yale. Even star athletes, who seemed destined to fail would pass the exams, after being tutored by the Rosenbaums. In 1920, they boasted that of the 885 boys who had attended their school so far, only 10 failed to enter college.
The Rosenbaums were synonymous with the highest of moral character and they attained their success through hard work and determination in their adopted profession. These brilliant educators had carefully calculated their own legacies—etched in stone, and covered with ivy.
Sam and Harris were, however, as different in character, as they were brilliant. Sam was the dominant personality, and often was unpredictable in his behavior. He was very emotional, and at times, unapproachable. Harris, on the other hand, was very mild mannered and he was beloved and respected by all. Harris had one flaw, however, a lisp, that induced a very noticeable stutter, and was very self-conscious about it. He even took a year off and went to England to learn how to overcome this handicap. In his absence, his brother, Sam, took charge. Upon his return, Harris and Sam simply continued dividing the administrative load as before. But, Sam maintained his steadfastness to continue operating Rosey’s in New Haven; Harris, however, spent most of his time at the Milford school. Although he brothers maintained two campuses, they still shared the same clerical and teaching staffs. The office staff worked out of Milford, but the teaching staff had to keep their sneakers and cleats handy, because they always seemed to be teaching classes back-to-back, on the two different campuses, and were constantly on the move.
Meanwhile, the potential for growth increased as more family members entered the education field. Another cousin, Harry J. Kugel, was the owner of the Kohut School, in Harrison, New York; his sister, Bertha, and cousin, Jennie Kugel, taught in New Haven schools. His sister, Gertrude, was the librarian at Barnard School in New Haven. Other family members were scholarly Yale alumni. After a while, the terms Rosenbaum and Yale became synonymous. The Rosenbaum Tutoring school, however, remained independent, stalking its sovereignty to anyone who beckoned. Yet there remained an unspoken partnership between Rosey’s and Yale. Yale professors started sending their students to the Rosenbaum brothers for tutoring, and so, avoided the need to avail themselves to their students after hours. So, the professors had a tutorial service, and the Rosenbaums had themselves a full-time occupation. Simply stated, the Rosenbaum Tutoring School was founded to fill a void which existed at Yale.
The Milford School
Formerly The Rosenbaum School
Modern Private School Preparing Boys for All Universities
Catalogue on Request
56 Gulf Street corner New Haven Ave., Milford, Conn.
Ad from the Milford-Orange city directory of 1924
Time magazine (December 14, 1936) referred to Sam and Harris Rosenbaum as, “Yale’s leading tutors.” Rosey’s was not the only tutoring school around, however; there were the Hopkins Grammar School, Hamden Hall,* and the Day School, who also maintained long-standing, high reputations. There was also the Collegiate School, which taught not only college preparatory courses, but art and secretarial skills, as well, operated by headmaster Samuel H. Pite, and whose beginnings parallel those of the Rosenbaum Tutoring School. These schools, however, did not enjoy a relationship with Yale, as was the good fortune of Rosey’s.
Predicated on the philosophy that students learn best in small groups, the Milford Academy still maintains that unerring principle. The Rosenbaums built a legacy that would be known to generations that followed. Some of the more famous students include Vincent Price, Efram Zimbalist, Jr., famous Hollywood actors, and California Senator George Murphy, Pillsbury Mills executive Philip Pillsbury, Henry Ringling North, and former US ambassador to Norway, Philip Kingsland Crowe, to name a few.
After Sam passed away, Harris took full reign, and consolidated everything in Milford. By then, it was officially called the Milford Preparatory School for Boys. The New Haven school became known as the Broadway Tutoring School, which was operated by Joseph S. Alderman and cousin Sidney Ross, both of whom taught at Rosey’s. They kept the same suite at 262 York Street, and other family members, such as Joseph Rosenbaum, another mathematical whiz, contributed their expertise to the Broadway school, which lasted only into the 1960s. However, Milford Prep seemed to roll along. Harris was running the school by himself, now, and had acclimated himself to be more of an administrator. But, that was an easy challenge, compared to some of the personal difficulties he had previously faced. But, he got stronger with each new task he faced. Whether it was his speech impediment or hearing loss, he mastered each difficulty with distinction, and overcame them. Harris continued to manage the institution until 1964, when the Rosenbaum family reorganized the school into a nonprofit corporation. At the time of the transition from proprietary to nonprofit status, the name of the school was changed to the Milford Academy. In a letter to headmaster Robert S. Eccles, Harris Rosenbaum announced his retirement from teaching on November 4, 1964. However he stayed on in an advisory capacity, and of course, to keep a watchful eye on the legacy he helped to found. Harris died on March 14, 1981. Upon his death, there could be heard no better eulogy than from one of his own students. Lawrence Cutler, of the Class of 1958, summarized a distinguished career. He wrote:
I am sure Harris Rosenbaum is always included on everyone’s reminiscing list, for he, more than anyone, personified Milford. He gave the school its ambiance of academia; he looked the part; he taught well and he commanded respect. As a result, he still lives in all of his former student’s memories
Today the school flourishes. It is coeducational now, and it has a very competitive athletic program. Its student body ranges form 130 to 150, a small number of whom are postgrads, or in laymen’s terms, high school graduates. Tuition have risen into the thousands, a drastic change from the original fee of twenty-five cents a lesson. Louise A. Anquillare chairs the Board of Trustees, and the Mayor of Milford, Alberta Jagoe, is an honorary member. Classes are still small, but aside from tuition, quality, pride, and excellence are high. The curriculum is broader and the teaching staff has also increased. The paperwork in the office is a bit more complex than Daisy Sinn used to handle, and dormitories now adorn the campus. But there is still one element that bridges the gap. A familiar sight that reminds us of the old days, at the same time expressing the new theories with a piece of chalk, is David “Buddy” Rosenbaum, Harris’ son, secretary of the Board of Trustees, and math teacher. And so the legacy lives on!
The Rosenbaum School