STAR OF BROOKLYN: Barbara Vellucci

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Barbara Vellucci, a lifelong Ridgeite, was the first person ever to serve two consecutive terms as president of the Bay Ridge Community Council (BRCC). She is also a lector at St. Ephrem’s, as well as assistant administrator of the Kassenbrock Brothers Memorial Scholarship Fund. Vellucci has worked to maintain the traditions of the fund’s namesakes, Walter and Vincent Kassenbrock, who founded the BRCC in the 1950s.

“We were losing sight of the traditions that were getting lost as times changed and it was my job to bring them back,” said Vellucci.

Vellucci has served on the executive board of The Guild for Exceptional Children, and has also worked on Democratic political campaigns.

PERSONAL LIFE: Vellucci attended grammar school at St. Ephrem’s, and high school at Fort Hamilton High School. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Marymount Manhattan College, and then went on to receive her Master’s at Columbia Teachers College. Vellucci is a second generation Italian-American.

“I was in the first household in my family where all the children went to college, and that was a big deal,” said Vellucci.

CAREER: Vellucci spent five years teaching English at Resurrection School in Gerritsen Beach. She transferred over to her alma mater, Fort Hamilton High School in 1988, where she taught English for the following 16 years. Vellucci has been serving as assistant principal of Fort Hamilton High School for the past 21 years.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Vellucci says her biggest challenge lies within the changing dynamics of education in the neighborhood.

“There are two levels—in the education field, and in a changing community,” Vellucci said, “People need to maintain the balance of getting to know your neighbors while still getting used to changes.

“There is a growing immigrant population,” she went on. “In the community itself, people need to get used to diversity. Kids come into school with an interrupted education, and struggle with language barriers.

“We have to stop and work very hard to acclimate the children and get them on par with the students who speak English. They’re scared and it’s very difficult. The state and city do not make adjustments. It’s very challenging but it’s something that we have to do; it’s what makes America strong.”

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