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Primevera director wins award

Primavera Italian Language Program students now have an award-winning Italian teacher, as do 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at Villa Maria Academy.

The study of Italian language has an advocate in Loretta Ziano, who helped to preserve the Primavera Italian Language Program at St. Benedict’s School by requesting funding and supplies from Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca. Ziano fought to keep the program alive after the non-profit that funded it for years could no longer do so.

For her efforts, Ziano has won the third annual Maria Montessori Teaching Award from the Italian American Museum for fighting to preserve the study of the Italian language in Country Club and Throggs Neck. She was honored at a gala at the VIP Country Club in New Rochelle recently, receiving the award at the museum’s 3rd Annual Ambasciatori Awards Ceremony.

“I just went to the ceremony and thought it was just going to be a free brunch,” Ziano said. “Then my friend surprised me by showing me the program, which had my name on it. I was thrilled.”

Besides securing funding for the Primavera program, the museum recognized Ziano for her work on behalf of Villa Maria Academy, where she teaches Italian two days a week. Ziano was able to write a successful grant proposal for $8,000 to the Italian American Committee on Education. The grant will help the school fund its Italian language program.

“It has helped Villa Maria Academy maintain their language program in these economic times,” Ziano said. “We hope to get even more money now that I have been recognized.”

As for Primavera, which teaches Italian to young people on Saturday mornings at St. Benedict’s School, Ziano said this year that the with the majority of the 12-weeks of classes over, the program has maintained its original enrollment of close to 80 students. Almost all the students who signed up on the first day remain in the program. Ziano also teaches adult Italian language classes in Throggs Neck. Ziano believes that investing in education pays long-term dividends.

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