By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR Scott Branning and Pete Feinberg have been teachers and coaches at Livingston Manor Central School for a combined total of 71 years.
Recently both Branning, who began his career at Manor in the 1976-1977 school year, and Feinberg, who started at Manor in the 1971-1972 academic year, decided to retire from teaching and coaching. Branning will retire at the end of June, while Feinberg will teach driver’s education this summer through Sullivan County BOCES before officially retiring from the Manor district on Aug. 14.
During his 33 years at Manor, Branning coached junior varsity baseball for two years, varsity baseball for one year, varsity track for 28 years, varsity football for 20 years, cross country for three years and indoor track for a few seasons.
For 25 years, Branning was a classroom teacher for the third, fourth and sixth grades in the Livingston Manor Elementary School. The past eight years, he has been a physical education teacher at Manor Elementary.
Feinberg, who has taught health, physical education and driver’s education in his 38 years at Manor, has coached a number of sports at the school. Among them are junior varsity football, junior varsity baseball, varsity and modified boys’ and girls’ soccer and varsity track.
He was also the coach of the school’s first-ever varsity boys’ soccer team back in 1991.
In addition, Feinberg, who will celebrate his 60th birthday in August, started a gymnastics club at the school and an intramural program.
“I am going to miss the contact with the kids and all of my colleagues,” Feinberg said.
When asked about a favorite memory, the 57-year-old Branning spoke of teams which earned championships.
“I had some really terrific teams over the years,” he said. “The 1983 track team won a Section IX title and our 2002 football team won a Section IX title. There have been five or six other track teams that won sectional titles since I’ve been here.”
The two veteran educators and coaches are taking different approaches to retirement. Feinberg will stay quite busy with a host of activities on his schedule, while Branning will be spending his time relaxing.
Feinberg has been a real estate sales agent for the past several years and is looking forward to continuing that career. In addition, Feinberg and his chocolate Labrador puppy “Baxter” will be training with the Eagle Valley Search and Rescue group based in Hancock. And Feinberg plans to continue serving as a Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the Livingston Manor Ambulance Corps.
“I am going to take the summer off and recharge the batteries,” Branning said.
He said he may do some traveling in the next few years since his teaching and coaching obligations limited his ability to do so during the past three decades.
For the past three springs, Branning and Feinberg have served as co-coaches of the Manor track and field team. Branning has concentrated on guiding the boys, while Feinberg has concentrated on mentoring the girls.
“It’s really sad they are both retiring,” said Sabrina Hinkley, a sophomore co-captain of the Lady Wildcats squad.
While Hinkley and fellow sophomore co-captain Chantel Baker noted that Branning is “a really good coach,” they are understandably more affected by Feinberg’s retirement.
“Coach Feinberg taught me everything I know about track,” Baker said. “When I joined the team in seventh grade, he taught me how to breathe, how to stride and how to run.
“He’s like a father,” Baker added. “He wants you to work hard and do your best.”
Hinkley noted that Feinberg has a very good coaching style.
“He’s always positive,” she said. “He is always encouraging you to get better.”
Both girls noted that the 2007 track season was particularly memorable. Feinberg arranged a trip for the team to the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa. Later that spring, he guided the Lady Wildcats to the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V title.