Izzy Pivnick describes himself as an introvert. This is a little bewildering, really, since every step he ever took seems to be to reach out eagerly to others. He smiles and adds, “an introvert who loves people.” It is this enthusiasm for people that has leads him to success in whatever he chooses to do. Izzy has managed, when faced with a fork in the road, to take both.
He knew in Junior High School that he wanted to be a teacher and followed that dream to set a singular definition of what great teaching is. His first choice was to teach physical Education but the swimming requirement and his fear of water forced him to backtrack a bit to the original fork in the road and take the other one. Mathematics, and this is what he taught officially for years, but the Phys Ed desire lingered, and one night at a school meeting he found a way bring Phys Ed back into his personal curriculum as he spontaneously offered to teach folk dancing. Six-hundred parents of the students followed him right into the yard to learn. Just a hint of the leadership abilities that would inform the rest of his professional and philanthropic life
Izzy talks about the student who corrected his pronunciation (yes, he welcomed it and admired her), about his early efforts to stem bullying, about visiting a student’s home to bring good news to a parent who usually got bad news, and about telling one inadequate teacher he was supervising that she would never make it as a teacher and his encouraging her to resign so she could follow her own dream instead of her father’s. He knows that people who go into teaching when they have no desire or talent at it do a disservice to themselves and their poor students. He still lunches regularly with some of his students from San Francisco’s Daniel Webster School.
For those of you who did not have the joy of Izzy Pivnick as a teacher or principal, you may know him from his days at KRON and then KPIX as a teacher of another sort. He took on the challenges of those who had been duped in some way or other by businesses. He went to bat for one man could not return his lemon of a television set because he had not kept the box, took on the cause of another whose new car fell off the hoist when it was being serviced and the company refused to make good on it, he came to the aid one sadly gullible woman was injected with plaster of paris instead of Botox. To hear how Izzy went about getting justice is to know that wherever he goes, this is a man whose leadership skills are as strong as ever and his problem solving abilities continued to work way past the classroom.
His love letters? He has stashes of them from children, grandchildren and others that he now realizes he should organize for his own joy and for whoever finds them in years to come. There may be one or two he would like to write at this stage of his life. Whatever letters he does write will surely be a part of Daniel Webster School history as well as his own.