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BenSchwartzWhen we found out that we had a cartoonist for the New Yorker in our neighborhood, and that he was also a doctor, we were curious to learn more about Benjamin Schwartz. He gracioulsy agreed to share his story and some of his artwork below. Enjoy this profile of one of Greenacres most talented and creative residents:

So, you grew up in Scarsdale ... When did you discover your love of drawing and art?

I grew up in Greenacres and I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't doodling.

Who helped to nurture your talent?

My family and friends have always been very supportive of my creative interests. I think my parents recognized fairly early on that cartooning was something more than a hobby for me.

When did you adapt your artistic talent to cartoon drawing?

I've pretty much always been focused on cartooning, so I actually had to figure out the opposite—how to adapt my skills away from cartoon drawing and towards something more lifelike. And that's because cartooning is all about exaggeration and abstraction. You can develop a passable visual vocabulary by studying other cartoons and comics, but to really understand how to cartoon something, you need to know how to draw it realistically first.

What were some of your interests in high school – did you pursue both science and art?

I've always been a bit torn between science and art, even before high school. In BenSchwartzelementary school, my answer to the question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was "either a comic book artist or a doctor." (I even have an old elementary school yearbook where it says that in print—see below.)

In high school, I got to stretch some of my cartooning muscles drawing for the Maroon, the school newspaper.

Having gone through medical school, how did you decide that you also wanted to seriously pursue a career in cartooning?

Well, I always wanted to seriously pursue a career in cartooning, I just didn't think I could; I didn't have confidence in my artistic abilities and I had no idea how to get my foot in the door of the industry. So I put that dream aside and focused on my other dream, to become a doctor.

Medical school wasn't without its challenges, but at the end of the day, it was school, and—thanks in large part to growing up in Scarsdale—I knew how to handle school. When it transitioned into the hectic world of residency, I learned how to handle that, too. And yet, the further I moved along in my training, the more I felt unfulfilled. Medicine was something that interested me, but cartooning was my passion. At some point it dawned on me that if I put as much time and work into pursuing a career in comics as I had in medicine, maybe I could become a good enough artist, and maybe I could figure out how to get my foot in the door.

It sounds like you play a very unique role at Columbia Hospital. Explain what you do.

As an assistant professor in Columbia University Medical Center's Department of Medicine, I teach medical students how to better empathize and communicate with their patients. I do this by having students study and produce art—comic art in particular. My classes are part of a larger program called Narrative Medicine, which started at Columbia but has since spread to medical schools around the country and world. Traditionally, doctors learn to understand illness as a collection of discreet signs and symptoms, yet the way people actually experience illness is narratively—as a story, a chapter in their lives. Art allows students to practice and develop their storytelling skills so that they can eventually provide better, more holistic care to their patients. Here is an example of a cartoon made by one of my students:


How did you apply to have your work published in The New Yorker? How often do you go to the offices and how do they decide what to use?

I found out that Bob Mankoff, the New Yorker's Cartoon Editor (at the time) held weekly open office hours to find new cartooning talent. That kind of direct access to such a major gatekeeper is pretty unheard of, so I knew I had to seize the opportunity. I put together a batch of cartoons and went down to the New Yorker offices to show him. He very graciously looked through them and gave me feedback. He rejected them all but told me I had talent and asked me to come back the next week with more cartoons. So I did, and he rejected those, too--but again he encouraged me to come back. I showed up weekly and got rejected weekly for about six months before I finally broke through and sold my first cartoon. I kept at it, and eventually I became a regular.

The way it works at the New Yorker, each cartoonist sends in around ten original cartoons each week. Between the regular contributors and unsolicited submissions, the Cartoon Editor (now Emma Allen) winds up with a few thousand cartoons on her desk. She whittles that pile down to something more manageable, and then she, along with magazine's head Editor and some others, chooses 15 or so cartoons to be included in the magazine.

Cartoons get sent in via email these days, so I don't tend to go into the offices very often, though it's nice to touch base with Emma from time to time. Here is my first published New Yorker cartoon: firstcartoon

What inspires your cartoons?

Everything! Being a cartoonist means I'm always looking at the world a little sideways, trying to find the humor in everyday objects and interactions. I never really thought of my cartoons as being particularly personal, but I've noticed that I've been making a whole lot of parenting cartoons since I've become a father.

With Trump in the White House is it more difficult to find humor in politics and everyday interactions?

Yes, for a couple of reasons.

First, I can't say I'm a big fan of his, so most of what I read in the news makes me feel depressed and deflated—not really a great mind-space to create funny cartoons. In fact, one of the toughest challenges I've faced as a cartoonist was coming up with a cartoon the day after he was elected. I was in the middle of a run as the Daily Cartoonist for the New Yorker's website (where I was responsible for producing a topical cartoon every week day), so I had to make something, but the election night outcome left me so numb that it was hard to find any humor in it. I was close to asking my editors for a pass, though I did eventually up with something (see below)

The other challenge with Trump is, even if you want to make jokes, he's already such a heightened, cartoonish figure that it's tough to really top the reality. unclesam

Have you ever drawn any cartoons that comment on local issues?

Local as in Westchester? Not really. I once submitted a cartoon that referenced Scarsdale to the New Yorker, but they didn't go for it. It was set in an Old West saloon. An angry-looking stranger has burst through those swinging saloon doors, but he's wearing a sweater vest, short-shorts, and holding a tennis racket instead of a pistol. The caption reads, "Which one of you bastards thinks you can take the Scarsdale Kid?"scarsdalekid

Why did you decide to return to Scarsdale?

My wife and I knew we'd probably wind up in the suburbs once we had kids (we had been living in the city). We initially looked all around Westchester, but we kept gravitating towards Scarsdale because of the schools and the proximity to family.

What do you like about living here?

Our house has space to store all my rejected cartoons.

glutenHow has it changed since you grew up here? Do you find that children's artistic skills are encouraged?

So far, it seems remarkably familiar (although the food delivery options are a lot better than I remember), but I almost feel like I can't really answer that question yet; so many of my Scarsdale experiences and memories centered around my education—I don't think I'll really understand how much the place has changed until my kids have entered the school system.

That will probably also give me a better perspective on the towns' encouragement of children's artistic skills, thought between annual events like the Halloween window painting contest and local programs like Young At Art, I can already tell that there's a supportive environment here for kids to make art.


rublinsSchool Board member Arthur Rublin, who is eligible for re-election to the Scarsdale Board of Education, announced he will not be seeking nomination for a second term. Mr. Rublin has served on the School Board since 2015 and, for professional reasons, has decided not to seek a second term because he recently began a new professional opportunity.

Mr. Rublin commented: "I am grateful to the SBNC and Scarsdale School District voters for honoring me with the opportunity to serve the School District, its students, and the community at large."

Elizabeth (Liz) Guggenheimer, SBNC Chair stated: "On behalf of the SBNC, I would like to thank Art for his dedicated service to the school district and the community and wish him well in his future endeavors. We are pleased that Art, a longstanding community volunteer, plans to remain involved in Scarsdale and education activities through and after the end of his term."

Members of the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) are seeking to identify potential candidates to serve on the Scarsdale Board of Education. Over the next few weeks, SBNC members will recruit and review candidates to fill two seats for a three-year term commencing with the 2018-2019 school year.

The SBNC invites all Scarsdale School District residents to propose names of qualified individuals to serve on the Scarsdale Board of Education. A candidate must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, a qualified voter, and a resident of the Scarsdale School District for at least one year prior to the May 15th election date.

In addition to nominating a candidate to fill the seat currently held by Art Rublin, the SBNC will nominate a candidate to fill the seat currently held by Pamela Fuehrer, who is completing her first term and is eligible for re-nomination.

The SBNC held its first meeting of the season on January 21st and is now engaged in active outreach to build a robust candidate pool. The SBNC will nominate two candidates to the School Board by March 31, 2018 for the nonpartisan slate in the next school board election. The election is Tuesday May 15, 2018 at the same time and place as the school budget vote.

Interested School Board candidates should complete a biographical information form and submit it via email to the SBNC Chair, at as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 PM on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. Forms are on the SBNC website at Please see the "Join the School Board" tab or contact the SBNC Chair Liz Guggenheimer for further information.

Elizabeth M. Guggenheimer, Chair
Moira Crouch, Vice Chair
Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee

JinAnother masseuse has been arrested for practicing without a license on Central Avenue in Hartsdale. On January 9, 2018 members of the Greenburgh Street Crime unit arrested Xiaonu Jin, born 11/19/64, for violating New York State Education Law 6512 (sub1), Unauthorized Practice of a Profession at Forest Yin Spa on 100 North Central Avenue in Hartsdale.

The Greenburgh Police Street Crime Unit and the Drug and Alcohol Task Force completed a short-term investigation into the Unauthorized Practice of a Profession.

Xiaonu Jin purported herself as a licensed massage therapist without having the requisite state license. She was transported to police headquarters where she was booked, processed, and released on one hundred dollars bail. Forest Yin Spa was closed by the Town of Greenburgh Building Department.

SHS Students win NYCLU PrizeThe Lower Hudson Valley chapter of the NYCLU (NY Civil Liberties Union) sponsors an annual contest on the Bill of Rights. It includes the seven counties of Westchester, Rockland, Ulster, Orange, Sullivan, Putnam and Dutchess. This year's Grand Prize winner was SHS senior Katie Bowen and the best in school prize winner was Lauren Jacoby. Both student winners are seniors in the AT Constitutional Law class at SHS and wrote on the issue of whether a police search of phone locations (to solve a theft in a school) should require a warrant.

Ms. Valentin has been taking SHS students in Criminal Justice to the Bill of Rights Day for the past seven years - and recently added students in the AT Constitutional Law class. This year, SHS teacher, Kate Krahl, joined them with her AT Government class. Students Bill of Rights Annual Contest

The photos feature students from the AT American Government and AT Constitutional Law classes attending the Bill of Rights Day on Dec. 15, 2017. The guest speaker was Attorney Consultant Rashida Robinson of the NYCLU who answered numerous questions on police searches and mobile devices.

Lauren Jacoby AwardKatie Bowen awardStudents 2 Bill of Rights ContestKatie Bowen Speech

mcclureTwo long time Scarsdale employees, Chief Financial Officer and Custodian of Taxes for the Village of Scarsdale Mary Lou McClure and SHS social studies teacher Maggie Favretti, will be the recipients of the second annual Thomas Sobol Award for Service to the Community. The announcement was made by Susan Greenberg, President of Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service, sponsor of the Award. These two recipients of the award will be honored at a luncheon to be held at 14 Harwood Court on the ground floor of the Harwood Building beginning at 11 AM on Tuesday January 23, 2018.

Mary Lou McClure administers all matters relating to finance in the Village as well as assisting with the preparation of the annual Village operating and capital budgets. Her budgeting and finance abilities have helped the Village Board to adopt consistently responsible annual operating budgets and a philosophy of cash to capital resulting in a lower debt burden and maintenance of Scarsdale's Aaa bond rating. Her work during her thirteen year tenure with the Village has resulted in significant service and efficiency enhancements to Village financial, budgeting and tax collection operations.

According to Steve Pappalardo, Village Manager, Mary Lou has exhibited a solutions oriented approach and a constant eye toward improving operational efficiencies. In 2007 Mary Lou was instrumental in evaluating solutions, selecting a vendor, and upgrading the Village's Financial/Enterprise Resource Planning system currently in use. She also modernized the tax receivable and tax lien systems. Mary Lou implemented online payment of the tax and water bills in 2008, and assisted in the implementation of online Recreation registration in 2009. She continues to pursue opportunities for automation, including document imaging and online inquiry and payment, all to provide more convenient and better service to residents.

Maggie Favretti is known for her scholarship, intellect, Maggie in the gardenand indefatigable energy in designing courses, writing publications, and connecting student learning to real-world outcomes. Maggie earned a B.A in art history from Yale University and an M.A. in English from Middlebury College. She has published short works about the commodification of the American landscape, women's poetry during the Enlightenment, food history and local history. At the high school, Maggie works to develop interdisciplinary teaching and world history programs. She has served as adviser to various high school clubs as well as serving on many committees beyond the confines of SHS such as the World History Association, the College Board and various historical associations.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Hagerman commented, "Maggie has connected with countless students, families, and community members not only because of her dedication to the school and to education in general but also because of her belief that we each have the capacity to improve the world around us through individual dedication and collective effort – a belief she has exemplified throughout her career. We are delighted that Maggie is this year's recipient of the Sobol Award."

tomsobolDr. Sobol was one of the nation's leading educators who, from 1971-1987, served as Scarsdale's Superintendent of Schools, then as New York State Commissioner of Education from 1987-1995, and subsequently as Professor of Education at Columbia Teachers' College, until his retirement in 2006. The New York Times characterized Dr. Sobol as a "fervent advocate for imposing broad academic standards, subsidizing poor urban districts, empowering parents and teachers to make policy, and promoting a multicultural curriculum." He firmly believed that educational excellence in the classroom must be combined with support at home and that ALL children should have the opportunity to learn.

While in Scarsdale, Dr. Sobol was instrumental in helping to establish the Scarsdale Community Youth Service Project, a unique collaboration between the Village and the Schools and administered by SFCS, providing significantly to the well-being of students in the Middle and High Schools. The objective of this award is to recognize two employees who work in Scarsdale, one from the Village and one from the Schools, for their distinguished service to the community over a period of years, and like Dr. Sobol, set an example of professional skill and loyalty to the community. The intent is to convey to the people who work in Scarsdale that its residents appreciate their efforts, and at the same time to honor the memory of Tom Sobol.

Following his tenure as State Commissioner of Education, Dr. Sobol returned to Scarsdale and served as a Board member of SFCS, chairing its Long Range Planning Committee where his final report was well recognized for its perception and written eloquence. In 2007 he was the recipient – with his wife Harriet – of the SFCS Open Door Award for service to the Community. Dr. Sobol passed away on September 3, 2015 after a long and valiant battle with Parkinson's Disease.

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