The three-year-old Italian School NJ, which offers classes in the Italian language and culture for kids and adults in Morristown and Parsippany, announced that it received its nonprofit status in September 2013. Its owner says the change signals a major step forward for the school, which plans expansion of its programs in the near future.
“Without the tremendous support from so many people in the community, our school would not have grown and flourished as it has,” said Natalia Bernini-Carri, who founded the school with her business partner, Marilisa Zanarella.
The endeavor started out in 2010 with six young students whose parents were interested in exposing them to the language. As of last year, it has grown to accommodate almost 100 students.
“With our not-for-profit status we can now more effectively raise additional funds to invest in learning tools and diversify our mission of bringing the Italian culture to New Jersey,” Bernini-Carri said.
Class sizes are small and programs are available for every age group and skill level. The school also offers private tutoring, but is preparing to expand its classes to include cooking and dancing lessons, as well as classes on Italian art and film.
“Italian plays an important role in the heritage and cultural
experience of many in northern New Jersey," Bernini-Carri explained. "For the high population of Italian-Americans living in the
area, as well as native Italians drawn here by the vicinity of the metropolitan
New York area and various headquarters that have made their homes here, the
preservation of the language and cultural mores is an important means of
creating and maintaining ties to a vibrant heritage, as well as infusing each
community with the customs of a rich culture.
"And for those who are perhaps impassioned by the many gems that Italian culture has on offer, such as fine cuisine, literature, art, opera, or travel, the preservation of Italian is of paramount importance,” she continued.
Italian School NJ has a team of nine teachers who come from diverse backgrounds—some are native Italians, while others learned Italian as a second language. Many teachers studied in Italy, while others graduated in the U.S.; some specialize in teaching children or adults.
Italian School NJ also work alongside corporations that conduct business with Italians, as well as with Italian families that have been relocated to the U.S. and want to learn English.