Our Mission

 

„Blest is the cradle which rocked me to be a Hungarian.”  
János Arany         

 

The János Arany Hungarian School is a welcoming, nonprofit educational and community-based organization maintaining an impartial world and political view. The school seeks to provide an educational institution and a venue to experience communal events firsthand for Hungarian children and families residing in the New York metropolitan area, as well as facilitate integration into the community for first-, second- and third-generation Hungarian and interethnic families.

Arany János

The educational program devotes special attention to development of the child’s Hungarian language skills embedded in lessons on Hungarian literature, history, geography and culture. In addition, the school provides a multifaceted community and expansive Hungarian cultural experience, in the framework of which, thanks to the intimate environment, not only the children, but parents and teachers as well, are enriched by the shared experiences and relationships formed which may last a lifetime. Students emerge from the program as open-minded young people proud of their bilingualism and their ethnic origins.

The János Arany Hungarian School has served the local Hungarian community for over the course of more than half a century. It has provided a Hungarian education and a community for generations of Hungarians living abroad and has become a second home for many of them living far from home country and families.

History of the school

The Hungarian school has operated without interruption in New York since 1963. At the outset, the goal of teaching Hungarian language skills was to ensure that first- and second-generation Hungarian children could enroll in the very popular Hungarian scouting program, since knowledge of Hungarian was a prerequisite to acceptance by the Hungarian scout troops operating abroad.

The Hungarian Parent-Teacher Association (HPTA) was formed in 1976 for the purpose of coordinating the work of the two organizations tasked with educating young people, namely, the Hungarian scouts and the Hungarian school. Currently the HPTA, as a legal entity, only deals with the functioning of the Hungarian school; however, to the present day, these two organizations still organize their programs in a coordinated fashion.

The Hungarian School is named for one of the most significant figures of Hungarian literature, János Arany (1817-1882), renowned not only for the breadth of vocabulary found in his invaluable works of prose and poetry, but also as a literary translator active in several languages. Arany’s most significant literary translations were in working with the English language; increased interest in the field of literary translation, as a whole, is associated with his name. The writer, Antal Szerb, writes of János Arany, „Every thread led back to him, and every thread leads forth from him, he is the radiant epicenter of Hungarian intellectual life.”

Educational Program

The educational program of the János Arany Hungarian School aims to develop Hungarian language skills (command of speech, reading, writing), familiarize students with the basics of grammar and cursive writing and, additionally, establish a foundation for Hungarian literacy by means of lessons in history, geography, and culture.

Our educational program makes use of textbooks published in Hungary and follows the curriculum in use in Hungary but incorporates American teaching approaches as well. Our teaching aids include textbooks and workbooks published in Hungary, inter alia, textbook series from Apáczai and Mozaik Publishers, material developed by the Balassi Institute for students acquiring Hungarian as the language of ancestry (Balassi Booklets) and the textbook series on history of the Hungarian nation issued by the Hungarian Scouts Association in Exteris.

During the course of the scholastic year, we celebrate national holidays and religious holidays of Hungary, and commemorate eminent days associated with folk traditions, thereby broadening our students’ sphere of knowledge and further strengthening awareness of their identity as Hungarians. We strive to communicate a love of Hungarian culture in a family-like setting, advocate familiarity with and respect for heritage and create a learning environment to which children come joyfully.

Each year when making up class groups and designing the course of study, the János Arany Hungarian School takes into consideration the language skill level of the children enrolled.

Three levels of the educational program:

Under the age of three: Mommy-and-me Playgroup
The goal of the playgroup is twofold: to develop the child’s mother tongue early on and to socialize the families. The fifty-minute sessions comprised of carefully selected Hungarian nursery rhymes, children’s songs and lap games take place with the active participation of the parents.

Ages 3-6: Preschool
Within the framework of preschool activities children come to know the Hungarian language through play-based learning. We broaden children’s overall knowledge of the Hungarian language by means of poems, nursery rhymes, games, songs, stories and arts and crafts projects.

Over the age of 6: Lower and Upper Level
In the lower level we strive primarily to develop children’s ability to communicate orally, master cursive writing, and understand the basics of grammar. Building on this foundation in the upper section, the study material is rounded out by literature, history, folklore and geography of the Carpathian Basin.

As an integral part of both the preschool and the lower and upper level curriculum students in a combined large group learn folk games, folk dances and about Hungarian heritage

Board and Staff

Teaching staff

The majority of teachers at the János Arany Hungarian School are licensed teachers having graduated in Hungary, the Hungarian-speaking areas outside the borders of Hungary or in the United States.

Teachers

Corley Nikolett, 2019-, Ladybug group

Fülöp Ildikó, 2017-, Eagles

Illyés Gabriella, 2021-, Phoenix

Kozma Judit 2021-, Dogs

Lantos Zsuzsanna, 2019-, Hummingbirds

Mária Dubabér 2021-, Hedgehog group

Nagy Ildikó, 2014-, Bóbita group, and 2016-, Folk dance

Szalai Zsuzsanna 2021-, „Pál Street” Gang

Zsiga Mónika, 2021-, Ladybug group

 

Csiki Júlia, 2007-2021, 2021- Substitute teacher

Máté Ilona, 2021- Substitute teacher

 

School Board

The work of the school requires dedication, self-sacrifice and serious behind the scenes work by the directors, teachers and parents.

Endre Mészáros

was born in Hungary; after receiving his degree in agronomy he studied management in the United States. He has worked in the field of international insurance for over twenty years; his professional career has given him the opportunity to live in seven different countries for varying lengths of time. His job brought him to New York in 2009 and here he started his family. He has been a member of the Arany János Hungarian School community since 2017 and has been a member of the school board since 2018. He has always been keenly interested in the process of cultivating an awareness of Hungarian identity; to the present day he remains in close contact with several Hungarian communities living in the Carpathian basin outside the borders of Hungary, and other communities in South America, in the Near East and in Western Europe. For these reasons, the Hungarian community in New York is important to him; his children, being raised in a mixed marriage, are active members of the community.

Ildikó Nagy

was born in Győr and has a degree in sociology from Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE). While living in Hungary she worked for the Institute of Political Science, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; in addition, she was the organizer of the jazz and folk music components of the Mediawave International Film and Music Festival. She has lived in the United States since 2009, has been director of the Hungarian House of New York from 2014 and currently is enrolled in the masters program in Nonprofit Management at Columbia University. She has been involved with Hungarian folkdance and folk music for over twenty-five years. She is the leader of the Délibáb Folk Dance Ensemble in New York and regularly organizes folklore events for adults and children. Since 2014 she has led the Bóbita Mommy-and-me playgroup and since 2016 also has taught the folkdance component of the curriculum of the Arany János Hungarian School. She has been a member of the school board since 2018, with her main areas of responsibility being organization of community events and grant writing.

Enikő Oláh Gyöngyösi

was born and raised in Hungary and has lived in the United States since 1999. She was a licensed accountant in Hungary and also has an associate degree in accounting from Kingsborough Community College. She recognizes the vital importance of educating Hungarian children living outside the territory of Hungary about the language, culture and history of Hungary, including her own child. Having this in mind, she and her child joined the Bóbita group of the Arany János Hungarian School in 2016; from 2018 she has been a member of the school board in the office of treasurer.

Ildi Sebestyén 

was born in Szeged, Hungary, living there until the completion of her Master of Science degree in Biology from the University of Szeged, in 2005. After living and working in Spain and Denmark, she moved to New York in 2009. In 2013 she became a certified birth doula and childbirth educator and while living in Seattle between 2014 and 2018 she was a volunteer with the Hungarian School of Washington and the Istvan Fekete Hungarian Scouts of Seattle. After moving back to New York, Ildi joined the leadership team of Arany Janos Hungarian School in 2021 to primarily help with the school’s online presence, website and other promotional tasks. As a Hungarian living abroad, Ildi finds it important to preserve Hungarian culture, history, language, and traditions. With her British husband, she manages to raise her children bilingually, which she believes the Hungarian School has greatly contributed and helped.

Zsuzsanna Szalai

was born in Budapest and completed her studies in Latin/Hungarian language and literature at the School of Liberal Arts, University of Debrecen. She has lived in the United States since 2000; she received her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2012 from Queens College, CUNY, and worked for the Morgan Library and Museum. From 2015 she has been employed at the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation as grant manager. She has been a member of the Arany János Hungarian School community since 2016 and has been a member of the school board since 2018, where her primary area of responsibility has been to plan the program curriculum and school communications as well as other tasks related to administrative planning.