The street corner outside P.S. 204 in Bensonhurst will be officially co-named in memory of Mafalda DiMango, the late educational leader who enjoyed a decades-long association with the elementary school, in a ceremony set to take place on May 11.
Councilmember Justin Brannan will host a ceremony on the corner of 15th Avenue and 81st Street at noon on Saturday. The intersection will bear the name “Mafalda DiMango Way.”
DiMango, who died on Aug. 2, 2018 at the age of 91, served as a member of Community School Board 20 and then the District 20 Community Educational Council for more than 50 years. During that time, she helped hire district superintendents and school principals, oversaw major changes in classroom curriculums, fought to get school cafeterias to serve nutritious lunches and was one of the first education advocates to speak out against child abuse.
She got her start as an education advocate when she served as Parent-Teacher Association president at P.S. 204 in the early 1960s.
“Mafalda DiMango’s efforts and achievements in education cannot be overstated,” Brannan told this newspaper in an email. “Our community is forever grateful for the impact she had on generations of students and parents. We not only pay tribute to her amazing life and tremendous accomplishments with Mafalda DiMango Way, but we remind present and future generations that a great education is the great equalizer for all children, no matter where they or their parents come from.”
For the DiMango family, having a street co-named for the educational matriarch is a dream come true, according to Hon. Patricia DiMango, one of DiMango’s two daughters.
“It’s a reflection of all of the accomplishments she had during her lifetime. She sacrificed a lot of time with her family to help the children of this community. She put the lives of others ahead of her own life,” she told this newspaper. “When she was coming up, in the 1960s, it was an era when women felt they didn’t have a real voice, yet she accomplished so much. And she did it by being selfless. She wasn’t a braggart.”
Patricia, a former New York State Supreme Court justice, is one of the stars of the hit CBS show “Hot Bench.” Her sister, Joanne DiMango-Orr, is a retired educator. Both sisters attended P.S. 204 as children.
She is looking forward to the ceremony. “It’s particularly meaningful to my sister and me to have it on that corner because we grew up on that block,” she said.
The timing of the ceremony is also significant, Patricia said. “My father [Anthony DiMango] will be 95 later this month. We’re so happy he’s still alive to see this tribute to my mother,” she said.
The family is grateful to Brannan for sponsoring the legislation and also expressed gratitude to Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress. Scissuira, who served with DiMango on the school board, pushed for the street corner co-naming. “We mentioned it to Carlo Scissura and he got it moving,” Patricia said.
“There are very few people who are more deserving of such an honor that Mafalda,” Scissura told this newspaper. “When you think about why we name a street after someone, you look for dedication to community and a life of service. All of those things were true of her.”
The fact that the posthumous honor is taking place outside P.S. 204 is fitting, according to Scissura. “P.S. 204 was a big part of her life,” he said.
The school named its auditorium after DiMango in a ceremony that took place two months before she died.