Teacher, poet, and spiritual leader Mitzie Holstein is all about positivity.
As a first-grade teacher at The Louis Marshall School in Canarsie, she finds that when kids feel good about themselves, they also strive to do better. And when she prays with her group as Women’s Ministries Leader at the New Dimension Seventh-day Adventist Church on Winthrop Street, she encourages women to increase their potential to help the mission of the church.
“This started as work, but wound up as my calling. Sometimes other people see your gift before you do,” said Holstein, who said that although she was raised religious and always attended church, it wasn’t until March 2015 when, while praying and seeking, she “got up, lifted my head from my pillow, and heard the glory of the Lord.”
Her work at the church puts her in contact with young women who need a mentor, and those who are hurting, either physically or spiritually. This fits right into the wheelhouse for Holstein, who admits, “I have a tendency to take up for the underdog, to take a protective role for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
Holstein brings this sensitivity to her role as an New York City public elementary school teacher, about which retired educator Dr. Cedra Lewis Baird said, “[Holstein] takes keen interest in fostering the educational progress and all-around development of her students. Her ability to communicate with parents is highly commendable.”
She’s been teaching since 2001, after being inspired by a college friend, Merle Warren, who started in nursing, but wound up getting a job as a teaching professional.
“She was also very kind from the start,” said Warren. “If I was running late, by the time I got to class she had a desk secured for me. One time, my mom was in the hospital and she came to sit with her so I could go to class. Mitzie is the type of friend you can call at the last minute to help.”
Originally from Jamaica, this Woman of Distinction now calls Brooklyn home, and enjoys the solace she finds walking the inner paths of Prospect Park, wending through the trees and hidden waterfalls. But her poems — like “The City at Night” and “America Post 9-11” — are largely set in New York City. Others are tributes to Michael Jackson, and actor Robin Williams, who committed suicide.
“Most of my poems are inspired by observation, and I write them everywhere: on trains, at airports, in my living room, any time I get the idea to write,” said Holstein.
Holstein now has several published collections, including “Creative Streams: A Poet’s Musings,” available at Barnes & Noble, and “Heart and Soul in the City: Poems of Mitzie Holstein.” Her friends say her compassionate nature radiates through her poetry.
“Mitzie is beautiful, both inside and out,” said Warren. “She is a wise, compassionate person, who is very dedicated to what she does. If you call Mitzie, she will always be there for you.”
Neighborhood: East Flatbush.
Company: PS 276, The Louis Marshall School in Canarsie.
Claim to fame: Published poet.
Favorite Brooklyn Place: Prospect Park, because I am able to find solace on the inner pathways, where there are lots of trees, hidden paths, and waterfalls. There are so many things to discover in the park.
Woman I admire: My mom. I love her quiet resilience. She never had more than a fourth-grade education, because her dad didn’t believe in sending girls to school. But she learned to read, and was my first teacher.
MOTTO: Stand up for what you believe in, even if you have to stand alone.