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Hudson Valley Community College Announces Academy for Character Education; May

CONTACT: Sarah Boggess or Eric Bryant (518) 629-8071
RELEASE: Immediate, Thursday, April 6, 2000

Hudson Valley Community College President John Buono announced today that the college has launched an Academy for Character Education, aimed at integrating character education initiatives into local school districts.

The goal of the academy, Buono said, is to provide the support needed for communities to initiate character education programs. Character education aims to encourage and foster the positive character and behavioral traits of respect, responsibility, civility, honesty, compassion, fairness, trustworthiness and citizenship.

"We would like to see the Academy for Character Education become a clearinghouse for character education initiatives in this area," the president said. "The academy can provide a forum for students, teachers and administrators to discuss the issues and integrate character education into their curriculums."

As an official launch, the academy will host a conference for parents, schoolteachers and administrators, Wednesday, May 10, and Thursday, May 11, in the college's Bulmer Telecommunications Center. "The Character Education Initiative: How to Build Positive Character Traits in Our Youth Using Head, Heart and Hands," will feature Dr. Thomas Lickona, Professor of Education at SUNY Cortland and a nationally recognized leader in the Character Education movement.

"This conference is for anyone involved in the school setting -parents, students, teachers, administrators, or school board members," Buono said.

The idea for the academy came to fruition in a meeting the president had last December with two dozen local school district administrators and school board members. "We had been planning on setting up something like the Academy, but the support we heard from the local districts was really overwhelming," Buono said. "We are happy to take the lead locally on this initiative, especially since it seems to have strong backing across the state and nation."

Lieutenant Governor Mary O. Donohue has championed the idea of character education and included it as one of the key recommendations in her October 1999 report, "Safer Schools for the 21st Century." Donohue, who heads the state's Task Force on School Violence, will speak at a special pre-conference program, 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 10.

The conference will include workshops and lectures on integrating character education into elementary and secondary school curricula. Conference workshops are designed for teachers, students, parents, school administrators and school board members. Topics will include strategies forimplementing character education principles in preschool through grade 12, and best practices taken from schools who have already begun to implement character education initiatives.

"Character education is not a single course but an educational style that can be integrated throughout the school culture and community," said Dr. John D. Walko, a retired social studies teacher from the East Greenbush School District who was appointed project coordinator for the Academy. "Having Dr. Lickona and Lt. Governor Donohue on hand to kick off this conference is really a boost to the Academy and the Character Education initiative."

Lickona, the author of "Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility," is the director of The Center for the Fourth and Fifth Rs (Respect and Responsibility) at SUNY Cortland.

The two-day conference is $60, or $50 per person for a team of four participants. The cost for attending only the special pre-conference talk by Lieutenant Governor Donohue and Dr. Lickona on Wednesday evening, including a reception, is $10.

For more information, or to register for the conference, contact the Hudson Valley Community College Office of Community and Professional Education at 629-7339.

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunities Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.