Far Out Friday: The day Donald Trump played school principal

by Sarah Bachman29 Jul 2016

Donald Trump has been successful at a lot of things, but being a school’s ‘principal for a day’ is not one of them.

19 years ago, Trump visited PS 70 Max Shoenfeld, a school located in the Bronx, New York City, to see if his high-profile visit could motivate the students – but their feedback for Principal Trump was anything but positive.

“This man had absolutely no clue about education,” recalled David MacEnulty, who ran a celebrated chess program at the school.

“He certainly had no clue where he was and who he was working with, and I just got the impression that this is a guy who shoots from the hip and whatever's on his mind at the moment is what's going to come out.”

Press accounts described Trump holding a cringe-worthy lottery to bring a handful of the 300 cheering students in the auditorium that day to a Nike store.

One boy asked him why he didn't offer college scholarships instead.

MacEnulty also remembers Trump using a fake million-dollar bill at a bake sale raising funds for the chess team, which hoped to attend a tournament in Tennessee. (Trump then gave a "kind of slim" $200.)

According to former Assistant Principal Mark Singer, what the media didn't see was noted germophobe Trump slipping a tissue under his hand so he didn't have to touch the school's stair railings.

Everyone escorting the billionaire noticed, Singer says, but no one said a word.

A former senior employee of PENCIL, the organisation that brought Trump and other notables to schools, recounted a subsequent meeting between Trump and Lisa Belzberg, who ran the organisation.

“How great am I? How great was that?” Trump boasted to Belzberg over breakfast at The Plaza.

“Do I put you on the map?”

Belzberg was stunned.

The school's principal, Sylvia Simon, said Trump's obliviousness to her students' poverty revealed an alarming lack of compassion.

“It's not that you live well, and you live in a nice environment and you have made lots of money,” said the now-retired South Bronx native.

“It's the ability to put yourself in other people's place. I hope (Trump has) learned to do that.”
 

*This article originally appeared in The74Million.org, a non-profit education news website.
 

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