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The Long Island Social Diary: June 14, 2013

I was recently fortunate enough to make a once in a lifetime trip to China, where I was visiting a friend’s son, who is a banker. I was there for a dozen days and during my stay, I visited a number of places including the Great Wall of China, Hong Kong and the Forbidden Palace. But the place I was most impressed with was the Shanghai American School (SAS). Founded on September 12, 1912, SAS is the largest international school in China, I was told. During the three hours I spent there, I got to see very modern facilities that are on beautiful grounds. The teaching staff come from all points of the globe and is very hands-on. I’ve always been very passionate about education, so I was very impressed by the curriculum. In fact, I was surprised to see that in one eighth-grade middle school class, the students were studying Supreme Court case histories.

As middle school principal Brad Latzke showed me around, what most impressed me was a mantra posted on the wall that said, “Knowledge and learning, not testing.” It’s a pretty refreshing philosophy given how testing-intensive our local school districts have become in recent years. This quick visit wound up being a special part of a trip that was already a wonderfully eye-opening experience.

Closer to home, I’ve become a real fan of the Family and Children’s Association (FACA) and the work that they do. It’s based in Mineola, primarily serves Nassau County and has actually been around for 128 years. According to Joyce Mullen, the director of marketing and communications, “The Family and Children’s Association’s mission is to protect and strengthen children, families and seniors who are faced with a difficult situation in their lives and have nowhere else to turn. We’re like a safety net. We serve about 25,000 people a year that are all ages. We provide mental health counseling, support services and shelter.” One of the programs that FACA does is called the $cholar Dollarz program, which provides scholarships to children in their programs, most of whom are in foster care or are homeless. It’s a gap grant because it’s used to subsidize items ranging from transportation (Metrocards or gas for their cars), books and food in some situations. Over the 28 years it’s been in existence, nearly 1,000 low-income students have been the beneficiaries of about $1.4 million, which isn’t a great amount of money considering the fact that we’re talking nearly three decades. But for many of these kids, getting a good education is what’s going to determine what kinds of lives they’re going to have going forward.

To celebrate the achievement of its scholars, the agency is holding a Scholarship Fund Reception taking place on June 18 at Roslyn’s The Swan Club, where there will be an appetizing array of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a gourmet buffet. To attend the celebration and dine with scholarship recipients please call 516-746-0350 ext. 364.To sponsor a deserving student and donate to $cholar Dollarz, please visit