Renee Levine, social worker

Renee S. Levine
Renee S. Levine
Posted: August 20, 2014

Renee Shai Levine loved reading to children, not only infants but also elementary students. She was convinced it would "encourage them to read and listen," reinforce their development, and prepare them for their future lives, her son Stefan said. "She felt everyone could achieve excellence."

Mrs. Levine, 82, a school social worker, died Saturday, Aug. 17, after a long battle with cancer.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mrs. Levine graduated from Midwood High School in 1948 and Brooklyn College in 1952. She continued her education with a master of social work degree from the Columbia School of Social Work.

While working on her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, she started teaching social work at Penn's School of Social Policy and Practice - and did so for 24 years. In 1978, she founded the Pennsylvania Association of School Social Work Professionals.

In 1987, her son said, Mrs. Levine decided to "test what she taught" and became a school social worker in the Centennial School District in Bucks County. "There she was able to run one of the programs she said she was most proud of," her son said: a teen-parent education project initiated at William Tennent High School that encouraged pregnant and parenting teens to stay at school.

In 2000 she was named Pennsylvania School Social Worker of the Year.

When she and her husband, Theodore, retired in the early 2000s, they made plans to travel and spend more time together. "It was heartbreaking for her - he died just shortly after, in 2003," her son said.

But she kept going on. In 2010 she created the reading program at the C.W. Henry School in West Mount Airy, which was welcomed by parents and teachers. Concerned that library facilities were not being supported by the School District, she obtained scores of donated books for children's use. Even as she was not able to read to the children herself anymore because of failing health, she still coordinated and monitored the program.

"She was sympathetic, empathetic, and really strong-willed," her son said. "And she believed in good people."

In addition to her son, Mrs. Levine is survived by daughters Gail and Louise; son Joel; and six grandchildren.

A private funeral service will be followed by a reception Wednesday, Aug. 20, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 W. Ellet St.

Donations may be made to the Germantown Jewish Centre Social Action Committee or a children's advocacy organization.


fholzschuh@phillynews.com

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|