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STEM preschool, legacy of 9/11, to open in Jericho in September

Monica Iken, left, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for

Monica Iken, left, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Iken STEM Science Academy Preschool at the Jericho Jewish Center in Jericho, on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Among those joining her were Nassau County Legis. Judith Jacobs center, and Leah Silagyi, 7, a supporter from North Carolina. Credit: James Carbone

Monica Iken, founder of the nonprofit September’s Mission, has sought to foster positive initiatives in memory of her husband, bond broker Michael Iken, who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center nearly 15 years ago.

In keeping with that spirit, she presided Wednesday afternoon at the ribbon-cutting for her private Jericho preschool, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math.

Iken said it will be the first of its kind on Long Island when it opens in September.

“It’s just a beautiful way to keep his spirit alive and have a legacy for my girls,” she said.

Michael Iken, 37, who grew up in Queens and Massapequa, was employed by Euro Brokers and worked on the 84th floor of the trade center’s south tower. The couple had married in October 2000. Monica Iken later remarried and had two daughters.

The Iken STEM Science Academy Preschool — an education program designed to kindle children’s interest in fields such as math and science — will be located in the Jericho Jewish Center at 430 N. Broadway.

Monica Iken said she partnered with the supportive synagogue to offer Long Island children a new opportunity, while maintaining a positive legacy for those killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Iken, a former elementary school teacher, said the program is designed to slowly introduce children ages 2 through 4 to technology and science at a pace that won’t overwhelm them. The best part of the process, she said, is that the children learn a lot without realizing it.

The Jericho school offers half-day or full-day enrollment and lists annual tuition prices ranging from $4,775 to $8,395, depending on the child’s age and the number of days per week he or she attends.

The preschool, which will feature an indoor gym, lunch program and outdoor playground, will offer before-school care starting at 8 a.m. and after-school care until 6 p.m.

Also at Wednesday’s ceremony were Nassau County Legis. Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury) and Manhattan lawyer Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democrat running for the state Assembly seat vacated by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was convicted of corruption.

Ilene Morrin, the school’s director, said she wished she had a STEM program when she was younger. In thinking about the upcoming school year, Morrin said she is most excited for young girls to have an early introduction to science that could translate into career success later in life.

“It’s a nurturing, loving place to be, with a wonderful, friendly staff,” Morrin said.

In 2015, Iken launched Iken Science Academy, a STEM preschool on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for children ages 2 through 4.


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