The street corner outside the Bensonhurst elementary school Mafalda DiMango spent most of her life serving will be officially named in her honor by New York City after the City Council approved legislation on Dec. 20 clearing the way for the re-naming.
The intersection of 15th Avenue and 81st Street outside of P.S. 204 will be named for DiMango, a Bensonhurst icon who died on Aug. 2 at the age of 91.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing the area, sponsored the street naming bill. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation.
There will be a public ceremony to celebrate the street corner designation sometime in the spring, according to Brannan.
“Our community benefits each and every day from Mafalda DiMango’s efforts and achievements in education. Having a street named in her honor is not only a tribute to her amazing life and tremendous accomplishments but will serve as a reminder that a great education is the great equalizer for all children, no matter where they or their parents come from,” Brannan told this newspaper in an email.
DiMango had a long history with P.S. 204. She attended the school as a child in the 1930s and years later, when her two daughters, Patricia and Joanne, were students there in the mid-1960s, she served as Parent-Teacher Association president. She then went on to serve for decades as a member of Community School Board 20 and its successor, the Community Education Council of District 20.
All throughout those years, she maintained her close ties to P.S. 204, attending school plays and dance festivals, and speaking at graduations.
Her last public appearance took place at the school she loved. In early June, DiMango attended a ceremony during which Principal Nancy Tomasuolo surprised her by announcing that the school auditorium would be named after her. School officials had lured DiMango there under the pretext of bestowing the honorary title of Principal for a Day on her.
During the ceremony, Tomasuolo said that DiMango always gave the same advice to students when she spoke at graduations: “Respect your parents, respect your teachers and respect yourself.”
That phrase is painted over the entrance the auditorium.
In addition to her long career as an education advocate, DiMango was also a member of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst.
The idea to name the corner outside P.S. 204 was first brought up by members of the DiMango family, according to Carlo Scissura, president of the New York City Building Congress. Scissura had served on Community School Board 20 with DiMango.
Mafalda DiMango is survived by her husband, Anthony DiMango, a retired dentist, and her two daughters, Hon. Patricia DiMango, a judge who stars in the CBS reality show “Hot Bench,” and Joanne DiMango-Orr, a retired educator.
“The family mentioned it and I thought it was great idea,” Scissura told this newspaper. “This news about the City Council vote is a fitting Christmas present for her family.”
The idea of a street corner name for DiMango was immediately accepted by Brannan, who began to move the proposal forward as soon as it was presented to him.
The street corner naming is a fitting tribute, according to Scissura, who said DiMango has an important place in New York City’s education history.
“She spent decades helping to build up the school system. If anyone deserves to have a street named after them, she does,” Scissura said.
DiMango’s membership on the local school board spanned more than 50 years, starting from the days before the decentralization laws were in place, through the years of decentralization and continuing during the changes in state education law that gave control of the New York City public school system to the mayor.