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NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould was principal for a day at Manhattan’s Public School 59 on Wednesday, part of a program in which leaders in different fields show support for the school system.

“It was terrific,’’ Gould said. “The kids remembered me from last year. I visited every classroom, I spent time in the lunchroom and I did a whole fifth-grade math session.”

He also visited the science lab, to which Bloomingdale’s donated $25,000 for equipment. The students wrote  thank-you letters to Gould, three of which were read aloud, and Gould received a commemorative plaque, with Lisa Belzberg, executive chairman of Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning, on hand. Gould has participated for three years in PENCIL, which encourages business leaders to partner with public schools in New York.

Gould and Bloomingdale’s have a long-standing relationship with P.S. 59, which is on 57th Street, through Bloomingdale’s Partners in Time mentoring program, for which 90 Bloomingdale’s executives donate an hour a week to mentor students.

Although he is a retailer, teaching is in Gould’s blood. His father was a professor of biochemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His grandfather was a Talmud professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary and his uncle held the economics chair at Columbia Business School for more than 30 years. Asked if he would consider teaching in his post-Bloomingdale’s life, Gould equivocated, saying, “It’s all about mentoring. Whether it involves kids at home, kids in the school or some form or another with people at work. Mentoring is all anyone is going to remember us for, and it makes you feel good.”

This story first appeared in the April 12, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.