By Jane Moynihan
Sept. 28, 2022: Founded in 1942 in the midst of WWII, the Bronxville Adult School (BAS) has been enriching Bronxville and surrounding communities for 80 years. Throughout its long history, the school has remained true to its original mission which is to provide an opportunity for lifelong learning at a nominal cost. This fall semester, as it celebrates its 80th anniversary, the school is offering over 200 sections of classes covering language, fitness, art, history, cooking, technology and much more.
To the hundreds of people who take classes each semester, the Bronxville Adult School is known as a local gem. People sign up to learn a new skill or explore an interest, and soon discover BAS is not just a series of classes, but is a community. Bronxville resident Mary Massa likes to take classes as a “way to stay connected with other parents and the community once your children are out of the school.” She explains, “it’s fun to go out with friends to learn something new.” Massa and her friends have taken classes such as wine tastings, cooking and art, among others. She and two friends recently took an Italian class to prepare for a trip to Italy. She says, “the instructor, Ines Rodrigues, was excellent and I learned enough conversational Italian to feel comfortable on my trip.”
Gladys Girimonti began taking classes to meet new people and get to know the community. Girimonti and her family moved to Bronxville from the Upper East Side of Manhattan during Covid so her son could attend the elementary school. Looking for an activity to do with her mother who lives nearby, Girimonti was happy to discover Ron Ramsey’s art class and Melissa Shinsato’s knitting and crochet classes. The relaxed, supportive atmosphere helped her feel comfortable in Bronxville. “The instructors are patient and people don’t judge you.” She says she “loves the practicality of the school. It is close by, convenient and the schedule works well for us. I take classes in the evening and my husband, who works from home, has the flexibility to take golf and tennis classes at Lake Isle during the day.”
The Bronxville Adult School’s enduring success is largely driven by the excellence of its instructors, many of whom are local. Beloved Pilates instructor Annette Jackson lived in Bronxville for 20 years before she moved to upstate NY last year. She taught Pilates all over the area before coming to BAS and launching the popular “Buff Bones” course. Jackson credits her dedicated following to “the positive energy of the students. Many came in pairs, but they got to know each other and turned the class into a small community within a community.” History Happy Hour became a runaway hit during Covid because the instructor, Christine Axen, attracted students via Zoom from all over the country. Christine is so good, says Massa, that “she can talk about any Middle Ages topic and make it interesting.” Students still tune in each Wednesday to relax at the end of the day with an hour of medieval history and, for many, a glass of wine.
BAS is different from most continuing education programs because it is an independent nonprofit (not subsidized by local taxes). Its mission to keep tuition affordable/accessible to all underlines its emphasis on curiosity and learning. Its goal is to support a community of people that want to learn. Students love that classes are not competitive. You can learn to draw or cook or speak a new language without worrying about making mistakes. One student explained, “Once you are an empty nester, it’s fun to pursue interests you have been putting off.”
The Bronxville Adult School is hosting an anniversary celebration at The Bronxville School (multipurpose room) on Tuesday, October 11th at 6pm. There will be a brief ceremony featuring Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin followed by light refreshments. The public is welcome to attend to learn more about BAS, mingle with instructors and current students and join in a toast to ring in the next 80 years. You can also stop by and visit their table at the Bronxville Sidewalk Sale on September 30th and October 1st to find out more about the celebration and the Bronxville Adult School.
Although it encouraging to see its curriculum returning to pre-pandemic operations, BAS is still struggling to overcome the financial losses that resulted from the pandemic while trying to keep student fees as reasonable as possible. It will require the active support of the community to help ensure the school will continue for at least another 80 years. Please visit bronxvilleadultschool.org
to make a donation, sign up for a class or to browse the catalog. You may also call 914.395.0516
. You can follow BAS on Instagram and Facebook.