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PR- 221-09
May 15, 2009


Life-long New York City Resident and Graduate of New York City Public Schools Was a Champion of New York City Children

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the IS 195 school building in Harlem will be named the Terence D. Tolbert Educational Complex in honor of Tolbert’s commitment to children in New York City.  The schools currently housed in the building will retain their individual names, while the building itself will be named for Terence, who served as the Executive Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Education. He was on a leave of absence when he died in November. The Mayor was joined at the newly- named educational complex in Harlem by Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Terence’s close friend and mentor Assembly Member Keith Wright, his mother Carolyn Tolbert, and his widow, Freida Foster-Tolbert.  Terence, who would have turned 45 this week, was a graduate of IS 195 and was known as a mentor and a strong advocate for the children of New York City, particularly those in Harlem where he was born and lived until his death.

“Once in a while someone comes along who has such an effect on people that you could never imagine life without that person; Terence was one of those special individuals, and I was lucky enough to call him my friend,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “And for his endless commitment and dedication the children of New York City, we could think of no better way to celebrate his legacy than to name this building where he attended school in his honor. New York City children are better off because of Terence’s advocacy, and we are all better off for having known him. It is a fitting tribute that we are naming this building the Terence D. Tolbert Educational Complex.”

“Terence’s dedication to the students of New York City was commendable; he believed strongly that every child should be treated with respect and should have access to every opportunity,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott.  “His work will be long remembered, and his legacy will continue through the students who will attend school in the Terence Tolbert Educational Complex.”

“Terence Tolbert was the rarest of men,” said Chancellor Klein. “He was a determined public servant whose life in government was spent advancing social justice – in his Harlem community, in the City’s public schools, and in Nevada, where he led the successful effort to elect our country’s first African-American president.  He was also one of the kindest, funniest, and most generous men I have ever known.  No tribute could be more fitting than to name his building in his honor.”

Tolbert, who was proud of his involvement in a variety of initiatives in support of youth, and who was also a self-proclaimed “lobbyist for kids”, was born and raised in Harlem. Prior to his death, he spent 17 years as a dedicated public servant in government and political service, having worked in both branches of the New York State Legislature and on numerous political campaigns at the local, state and federal levels.  Terence enjoyed policy-making successes in the areas of education, health care, civil rights, election law, reapportionment/redistricting and youth advocacy.  In just under three years at the Department of Education, he delivered significant legislative victories that will benefit public school children for decades, including raising the State cap on charter schools, securing record funding to build new schools, and helping to resolve the decades-old Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. 

Last summer, he took a leave of absence from his position at the Department of Education to work on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as the Nevada State Director.  He died on November 2nd, just two days before the historic election of the nation’s first African American president.  He delivered the key swing state, capping an incredible life’s journey.

Terence was a graduate of New York City public schools, including PS 154, IS 195, and the Bronx High School of Science. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Hunter College. 

About MS 195

The Roberto Clemente School, also known as The Pride of West Harlem is in the process of transforming into a 21st Century School of Choice for District 5.  The school received a ranking of ‘Well-Developed’ in the citywide Quality Review for the 2007-2008 school year, having also received a “B” on its progress report.  Test scores are also steadily improving, as reflected in the school making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in all core areas in for the 2007-2008 school year.  The commitment to closing the achievement gap is shown by the addition of the Achieve Now Program for overage students.  IS 195 also sets high standards for its students with the addition of Regents courses for accelerated learners.


Stu Loeser / Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor (DOE)   (212) 374-5141

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