Local launches Albanian-American educators forum

The Albanian American Educators Association hosted their first meeting at the United Federation of Teachers Bronx headquarters on February 26.
Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Kapaj-Vieira

A new organization for local educators seeks to make connections among those with common heritage.

The Albanian American Educators Association was recently founded by local educator, Jacqueline Kapaj-Vieira.

“I thought it would be nice to try to form a community where we can come together, share information, network and celebrate our heritage,” said Kapaj-Vieira.

The goal is to establish a professional network for Albanian-American educators to share educational knowledge, help students achieve success, and work together to create an environment for professional and social support, said Kapaj-Vieira. They plan to do this through hosting various meetings as well as a variety of events, and workshops for members.

The group is open to educators of all types—teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and professors, among others—working in all levels of education.

“It’s just a forum to bring us all together,” Kapaj-Vieira, an assistant principal at the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology.

When she first started teaching 28 years ago, Kapaj-Vieira found there were very few other Albanian educators. But over the years, she’s encountered more and more in the field, and she wanted to provide an opportunity for them to come together.

“It’s long over due,” she said.

There are already other ethnic educator groups in the area, Kapaj-Vieira noted, the most prominent being the Forum of Italian American Educators.

The initial enthusiasm Kapaj-Vieira received about the organization shows a need for the forum, she said. More than 20 people showed up to the group’s first meeting in late February, and others have expressed interest.

A small group of volunteers are beginning to craft a vision and mission statement for the group, and they will soon take steps to establish a fully-fledged organization, said Kapaj-Vieira.

“Right now we’re in the planning stages,” she said.

And although it’s still early, the current members are very excited about the potential for the group to grow.

“We hope that we can create an organization that will sustain itself for many years to come,” she said.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.

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