When Celia Cuce was ready to head back into the work force in 2005 after 20 years raising her two daughters, she knew her skills needed a boost. “Computers had been invented while I was at home,” Cuce said with a chuckle.
She joined a class on computers in business at an adult school and soon landed a job at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, where she rose to assistant executive director. This month, Cuce became executive director of the Bronxville Adult School, where she thinks her appreciation for the value of adult learning is a huge asset in dealing with mature students. “I do a lot of handholding because I understand it myself,” Cuce said. “It was not easy for me because I didn’t know what to expect when I went to that class on computers in the workplace. I try to reassure people that not only is the class very good quality, but it’s a friendly place and a warm place.”
Cuce, 59, is replacing Barbara Corcoran Begert, who left the Adult School for a new position at the New York Botanic Garden.
A resident of Harrison and native of Yonkers, Cuce has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the City College of New York and a master’s degree in financial management from Iona College. Early in her career, Cuce worked in social services for Westchester County. She said the mix of that “interpersonal” experience and her MBA are a good fit for her new job. “It’s a great combination that works very well in not-for-profits,” she said. “My area of expertise is programming. My whole life, I’ve been taking adult classes. I believe in lifelong learning, and this is one of the premiere programs in Westchester County.”
About 150 classes will be offered in the spring term, which starts on March 4. Among the most popular classes are those in foreign languages, art and fitness. In addition to the typical zumba, pilates and yoga, the school this spring will offer a rock-climbing class at the Bronxville School. Cuce said slots are filling up fast for a Hitchcock film series that will run in April.
The age range of students starts with teenagers who fill the college prep courses to seniors who especially love the day trips to places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The beauty of adult schools is they teach you what you need to know, and they teach it in a very accessible way,” Cuce said.
Costs range from $20 to courses that meet once to $275 for an eight-session course on Microsoft Office software. “The mission of the school is lifelong learning at affordable prices. The idea is to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible,” Cuce said.
Cuce noted that course offerings at adult schools are a window into what’s happening with the culture. This spring, the Bronxville Adult School is offering a class on iPhone photography that’s proved so popular the school had to open another section. “You can see the evolution of technology if you look at adult school catalogs,” Cuce said. “When I bought my first computer, it was like a foreign language, so I went to an adult school to learn how to buy a computer. Now you don’t have to do that anymore, and people are going to adult school to learn to use their iPhones.”