2008 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree

Ava M. Favara

Ava M. Favara

Nassau BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts

Ava Favara always dreamed of a school where students could study to become professional artists — a place where they would feel supported and respected while they pursued their goals. Thirty-five years ago that dream became reality in the form of the Nassau BOCES Cultural Arts Center. This year, it was renamed the Long Island High School for the Arts (LIHSA), and Favara, the school’s principal, is just as committed to its success now as she was the first day.

LIHSA serves as a model for arts high schools throughout the nation, and every time a new one opens, Favara’s staff members tease her, “There’s another Ava Favara School for the Arts popping up.”

When Favara went to college, she wanted to be a performer. But her father convinced her to earn a degree in education as well. He told her teaching would be the best way for her to share her love of the arts, and she has always been thankful she listened.

Under Favara’s leadership, LIHSA has grown from 36 students from 13 school districts in 1973 to more than 200 students from 60 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties. And she keeps looking for ways to share her love of the arts with others, adding additional programs such as a Summer Arts Academy and adult education classes.

Whether studying fine arts, dance, music or theater, LIHSA students and staff members all have one thing in common with Favara — passion. “The journey isn’t possible without passion,” she said. “It’s in your blood.”

Each morning the practice rooms fill up with students long before classes are scheduled. According to Favara, “They want to be here; they can’t wait to be here.”

When she talks about LIHSA alumni, she breaks into the wide grin of a proud mama. “They are working all over the world — as recording artists, as performers on Broadway and in television and movies, and as artists. Many also come back to work right here at LIHSA, wanting to ensure the next generation receives the same great experience they did.”