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According to Regina Farinaccio, manager of Educational and Community Services for the Port Washington Public School District, the Continuing Education Program has been serving the Port Washington community for over 50 years. She told Port News that it was originally founded after World War II by Lee Aschenbrenner, motivated in part by the needs of the returning veterans. Each year, a wide variety of programs are offered to local residents, combining old favorites with new offerings. Farinaccio said that they serve about 1,500 individuals a year in the regular program, plus more than 400 who are studying English as a Second Language (ESL) or taking High School Equivalency courses for their GED (General Equivalency Diploma). Of the ESL, Farinaccio said, "It is neat to see people of all ethnicities and all walks of life in classes doing the same thing. They are so motivated and so interested." The High School Driver Education and Adult Defensive Driving courses are also included in the Continuing Ed. program.

One of the most popular offerings is the Grand Chefs of Long Island series, coordinated by longtime Port resident and Continuing Education Advisory Council member Beverly Halm. This program is comprised of courses taught by some of Long Island's greatest chefs, some on-site at their restaurants and others off-site at Schreiber. Port Washington's eateries are well represented, including two recent additions: Iavarone's Prime View and Harbor Q's Keith Dorman, who comes from a longtime Port Washington family. Also new is the Port Washington Caterer, Mark of Excellence. Returning after a hiatus are LaMotta's Restaurant and Sue Sturman from Epicurean. Halm, who attends all the classes, said, "In all of the courses the students leave with samples and recipes." She quipped, "It's like eating your homework." Farinaccio commented about this series, "It's not just the cooking-it's the social part and enjoying the pleasure of food."

Also very popular are the physical fitness courses. Farinaccio said, "We have a broad range of courses, from A (Aikido) to Y (Yoga)." She quipped, "I would like to be able to say 'A to Z', but we couldn't think of a subject beginning with 'Z'." A few of the other programs include toning with weights, aerobics, volleyball, golf, fencing, dancing, and Pilates. A new course added this year is Middle Eastern dancing.

The Continuing Education Program currently offers a variety of technology courses, and would like to add more. Farinaccio said, "It is always a challenge, because most people now have a good knowledge of basic computers. We are polling business people to determine what they need and want." One of the new courses this year, "How to Retrain Yourself in Computers" will be taught by Port Washington resident Bob O'Brien, Continuing Ed. Advisory Council member and longtime professional in the world of information technology. [Full disclosure: this reporter's husband.] O'Brien said, "Technology for professionals in all walks of life is changing at an increasingly rapid rate, and we need a process to stay up to date. This course provides instruction in a process to stay current on whatever technology you are interested in." Another new course that has been added is "How to Purchase a Computer." Farinaccio said that they would like to add a course on making presentations, but have not yet found the right person to teach it.

Appropriate to our waterside community, there are also a number of boating and navigation courses. Many courses for seniors and retirees, the fastest growing segment of our population, are also offered. Other selections are too numerous to mention, but include hobbies, home and garden, personal care, languages, finances, and a variety of tours and trips.

The Continuing Education program, was briefly outsourced to an independent firm from 2005-2006. There was a consensus that this did not work, so it was brought back under the district's auspices in 2007. Farinaccio said, "It became clear that local control is very important." In the introduction to the Fall 2007 catalog, Superintendent Dr. Geoffrey Gordon wrote, "The board of education and I are committed to maintaining our excellent Adult and Continuing Education program." Taxpayers should note that the program is at least self-sustaining and may, in fact, bring in more revenue than it expends. Farinaccio pointed out that the support staff, funded through the Continuing Ed. program, have other duties as well.

Farinaccio, longtime Port resident who has worked for the school district for 17 years, invited those who are interested in teaching a course to call at 767-5470, e-mail rfarinaccio@portnet.k12.ny.us, or write to her at 90 Avenue C.

Look for your catalog in the mail at the end of January, and think about taking one or more of the excellent courses offered by our school district.


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