'It's where you end' - Orangetown supervisor honors Black educator who made mark in Rockland County

Dr. Arlene W. Clinkscale became the first Black teacher in the Pearl River school district in 1960.

News 12 Staff

Feb 18, 2022, 10:30 PM

Updated 876 days ago

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A Black woman with a master's degree from Columbia University is being honored by Orangetown for making her mark as an educator in Rockland.
Dr. Arlene W. Clinkscale became the first Black teacher in the Pearl River school district in 1960.
"I had never heard of Pearl River," she says. "I did not know how to get here. I did not know anything about Pearl River, but I took the chance."
Clinkscale then moved on to become East Ramapo's first Black principal and focused on boosting moral after a strike divided the school.
After that, she became Nyack's superintendent of schools - making state history in the process.
"My goal was to be a good teacher when I was teaching and to be a good principal when I became a principal - and I felt that if I did those things, if there was any recognition to be given, I would get it and if it wasn't any recognition then so be it," Clinkscale says.
Orangetown's own history-maker honored Clinkscale for Black History Month.
"When I first got elected, as the first female town supervisor, Rockland County - people were like, 'trailblazer.' That word sometimes gets used too easily. She's the real trailblazer," says Orangetown Supervisor Teresa Kenny.
Years may have passed, but students have not forgotten Clinkscale.
"The one thing they will say to me is, 'Mrs. Clinkscale, you were tough, but you were fair.'"
Clinkscale wants everyone to remember this message - that "it's not where you start, it's where you end."


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