My Mentor: Marvin Polonsky

By Warren Shalewitz

My mentor was my 7th grade Social Studies teacher, at Junior High School 109 in Queens Village, NY, Mr. Marvin Polonsky. Early on he taught us that history is a living subject, not just the the memorization of dates and events for an exam. He explained how we can learn from the past and also that people do not always learn lessons from the past. Now 50 years later working at the Museum of Jewish Heritage I see how wise his words were. Lessons are learned and not.

Mr. Polonsky came up with unique projects to create interest for the class. One that particularly stands out was a map of Manhattan done with paper mache and made to scale. We all were able to participate by putting pieces of wood which were scale models of the blocks of the borough. When completed the map was exhibited at the NYC Building in Flushing Meadows Park which now houses the Queens Museum of Art. Just recently Mr. Plonsky, now retired, visited the Museum. It was really nice to see the best teacher that I had as a NYC student.

1 Response to “My Mentor: Marvin Polonsky”


  1. 1 helen schulman May 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Wow! It was certainly exciting to learn that my brother Marvin Polonsky was your menentor and inspiration. I remember his stories about his students and know that he loved to inspire and motivate them to enjoy social studies. I will pass your message along to him.


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Have a Story to Share?

Do you have a mentor who inspired you? Share your experience with us. E-mail your story (and photo if you have one) to arubin@mjhnyc.org and be sure to return to this page often to read more inspiring stories.

Ernst Borinski and Donald Cunnigen

In this clip, Professor Donald Cunnigen, a former student at Tougaloo College, explains how his mentor Professor Ernst Borinski helped form his view of the world. View the clip and then help us answer the question: Who Has Inspired You?

The Exhibition

Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow was created by the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

The exhibition will be on view at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta from June 24 – December 9, 2012.

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