Dorothy Bonawit was born in Brooklyn, approximately 1909, as the only child of Henry and Dora Bonawit. Henry was a lawyer, and Dora a teacher; later principal of Tottenville High School in Staten Island.

Dorothy became a high school English teacher, then took over as principal of Tottenville around 1944. She went on to become principal of Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights, Queens, serving there for several years in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1968, she married Shepard Kole, and in 1969, she was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of District 24.

Sadly, she died soon after, in February 1970. Her colleagues placed a notice in the New York Times on February 25, 1970 that read, “The High School Principals Association expresses profound sorrow at the death of our beloved colleague. She will be remembered for the lively spirit of dedication, vitality, and warmth she brought into her work with students, teachers and supervisors. [She was] a lady of distinguished scholarship, sparkling wit, and a lifelong interest in secondary education.”

PS49 was initially built from 1931-1933 at a cost of $338,000 to seat 954 students. Sometime after Ms. Bonawit Kole passed away, the decision was made to dedicate PS49 in her memory. Additions to PS49 were constructed in 2009 and again in 2016.

This biography was composed thanks to archives made available by The New York Historical Society, The New York Public Library, and The Juniper Park Civic Association. We apologize for any errors and welcome the opportunity to learn more about Ms. Dorothy Bonawit Kole.