August is a funny month, isn’t it? For many of us, it’s the last call for summer vacation. But it’s also “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the old, amusing Staples commercial noted — back to school.

That commercial showed two forlorn kids standing before shelves of school supplies as their giddy dad glided down the aisle on a shopping cart and tantalized his children by cranking a pencil sharpener. It’s safe to say, however, that after a year of lockdown, mom and dad are not the only ones happy about schools returning to in-person classes. Still, that return is not without its poignant challenges. And yet, few actions are more key to jump-starting the socioeconomic engine, which is why we wanted to take a more in-depth look at education in this issue. New Wagger Jennifer Moore Stahlkrantz, whom you’ll remember as the longtime editor of the former Bedford Magazine, joins us with a selection of profiles of area prep school heads to find out what makes them and their schools tick. Gina, who began her career in academic administration at Manhattanville College in Purchase, sits down with John J. Petillo, president of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. And we talk to officials at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers and Fairfield University, just two of the many colleges in our area that have taken up the federal government’s Covid-19 College Vaccine Challenge to immunize the members of their communities. 

These include several community colleges, which have been in the news as President Joe Biden puts forth a proposal to make two years of tuition there free. It’s a proposal that has its fans and its critics. But if anyone can take the heat, it’s another WAG subject, the dynamic Belinda S. Miles, president of 75-year-old Westchester Community College in Valhalla, the county’s largest institute of higher education and the State University of New York (SUNY)’s first federally designated Hispanic Serving institution. That should be music to the ears of White Plains-based Latino U College Access (LUCA), which helps high-achieving but underserved Latino students from Hispanic-majority high schools in Elmsford, Ossining, Sleepy Hollow and White Plains attain the dream of becoming the first in their families to graduate from college. We talk with founder Shirley Acevedo Buontempo and new executive director Cosette Gutierrez about Latino U’s past, present and future.

Who knows? Maybe some of its graduates will go on to work for businesses like Connecticut-based Fingerthink, which helps companies market to Hispanics, a powerhouse economic demographic, as we discovered when we spoke with founders Francisco “Paco” Sinta and Humberto Gutiérrez. 

But while we’re all about education, education, education — which philosopher/education reformer John Dewey called “life itself” — we’re also about the educational aspect of leisure as well, as another philosopher, Aristotle, put it. Jeremy’s on the scene for one of the biggest stories to hit our area in a long time — The Village. Covering 133,000 square feet with nearly 1,000 feet of walkable marina, this massive redevelopment in Stamford’s South End, fuses office space and private-event venues with world-class food and beverage offerings. It’s anchored by Brent Montgomery and his Wheelhouse brand, launched in 2018 in partnership with Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!.”

Those beverage offerings undoubtedly include wine, another subtheme of this issue. In addition to Wine & Dine columnist Doug’s regular coverage of the subject — this month, we learn more about Portuguese wines from him — we have Barbara’s trip to Burgundy and two homegrown stories — Phil’s take on Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Sandy Hook and Jeremy’s look at the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest, an annual Labor Day rite in Rhinebeck. (It’s one of two September festivals in Dutchess County that we’re covering. The other is of the Hudson Valley Gospel Festival, which Laura explores.)

We’re on the links for an unusual view of golf as a sport that is mutually beneficial to businesses and philanthropies and we’re on the courts for the latest on the US Open, which will welcome back tennis fans in what it is billing as “the ultimate return.”

Meanwhile, Jena pins down a woman who while not be on the links or the courts is everywhere else — Westchester influencer Jessie Spellmann-Mignone, whose @whats_in_westchester_ny is must-viewing on Instagram.

What’s in Westchester and what’s in Fairfield? WAG knows and is delighted to educate you about it.

A 2020 YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester Visionary Award winner and a 2018 Folio Women in Media Award Winner, Georgette Gouveia is the author of “Burying the Dead,” “Daimon: A Novel of Alexander the Great” and “Seamless Sky” (JMS Books), as well as “The Penalty for Holding,” a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist (JMS Books), and “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group). They’re part of her series of novels, “The Games Men Play,” also the name of the sports/culture blog she writes. 

Her short story “The Glass Door” was recently published by JMS and is part of “Together apART: Creating During COVID” at ArtsWestchester in White Plains May 7 through Aug. 1.  Her new story, “After Hopper,” is now available from JMS Books. For more, visit thegamesmenplay.com.

More from Georgette Gouveia
Planting seeds in the garden of earthly delights Ever since Eve tempted...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *