After a career as a professional violinist, Juilliard-trained Minsun Kim, 55, established her music and art school, the Long Island Conservatory, in 1992. She uses proceeds from the Albertson school to fund two nonprofits that provide scholarships, host an international music competition and run summer camps all over the world, from Budapest to Beijing. An April 2 fundraiser at Oheka Castle will feature student musicians.
Today the school serves 1,500 students with classes and private lessons and has expanded to include an academic center as well as dance, fencing, and science research. It also operates three schools for English as a second language, in Flushing, Manhattan and New Jersey.
Kim, whose grandfather founded one of the oldest free schools in Korea 76 years ago, is a candidate for president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York. She would be the first woman to lead the large organization.
What do your programs cost?
Costs for pre-college lessons are based on the length of the lesson and the package. For instance, 30-minute lessons in a four-week package are $37 per lesson, while 30-minute lessons in a 16-week package are $34. In the [4-year] Conservatory Program, tuition is $4,500 per semester, and in the [2-year] Artist Diploma Program, tuition is $6,500.
Your students perform all over, from Long Island to Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Why are you so committed to free community events?
The United States is a powerful country from its harmony and diversity. So when we share and understand other cultures ... we will be able to respect each other's differences.
Why do you work to keep talent on Long Island?
Over the past 20 years more than 10,000 students have studied at our institution. Very few came back here to work. They want to go to New York. They want to go to Harvard Medical School. We have to give our younger generation some reason to come back. We have to build more research and technology places ... First, we have to intensively educate our brilliant students, and let them go to big competitions. Let them become winners. If we don't teach them, then we don't start. Then, there's no hope.
Why did you start your science lab?
In the United States, the science and the math fields are very weak compared to Korea. We study much more in Korea, and parents really push science and math. So I created an Intel science research program. They have to research; they have to find or create some new technology. We accept 20 students a year.
How do you stay financially healthy?
Only highly qualified teachers are employed. All have advanced degrees. Through word-of-mouth, parents recommend the school, and the school's client base continues to grow. With hard economic times, the school has offered a variety of programs for students at different costs.
NAME: Minsun Kim, president of the Long Island Conservatory in Albertson
WHAT IT DOES: Advanced music, art, language and science education
EMPLOYEES: 15 full time, 60 part time
BUDGET: $2 million