Hudson Valley Education


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News items




Bree Allen Elected Next President of the New York School Bus Contractors Association

LATHAM (October 24) – The New York School Bus Contractors Association Board of Directors recently voted to elect Bree Allen, of Ethan Allen Transportation, as its new president.  Allen has spent the last two years as the Association’s vice president and has been on the Board of Directors since 2005.  She will serve as the Association’s president for the next two years.

As current Regional Manager of Ethan Allen Transportation, which provides school transportation services for the Kingston City School District, and someone whose family has been involved in the school bus industry for over half a century, Allen brings to the post an unparalleled depth of knowledge, skills, and insight in providing safe school transportation services.

“It is truly an honor to be named the new president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association and to continue our mission to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective student transportation services throughout New York state,” said Allen.  “I look forward to helping improve our school bus safety laws, further spreading our message about the benefits of private pupil transportation, and having a positive impact on the entire school transportation industry.”   

School transportation has been major part of Allen’s life since the day she was born.   She grew up in the family business, Ethan Allen Enterprises, which was founded by her grandfather, Ethan, over 60-years ago.  Her father, Robert, ran the business until his passing until 1991.   From there, her mom, Deborah, took over the reins of leadership until her retirement from the school bus industry 10-years ago.   

“Bree is extremely talented and we are thrilled to have her as our next President,” said past president Mike Martucci. “Her unique perspective, skills, experience and work ethic are all tremendous assets and I have no doubt she will exceed all expectations in propelling the school transportation industry forward throughout New York state and the rest of the country.”

Under Allen’s leadership, Ethan Allen Transportation has been continually recognized for its commitment to the highest possible safety standards, its ongoing driver training and education programs, and has received numerous awards, including Ulster County School Bus Driver of the Year from the Mid-Hudson Transportation Supervisors Association. 



Faith Christian Academy’s Jonathan Gilbert selected for All-State Symphony Band

POUGHKEEPSIE (October 17) – Faith Christian Academy Senior and Highland resident Jonathan Gilbert has been informed by the New York State School of Music Education, a unit of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), that he has been selected to perform in this year’s All-State Symphony Band at the State Winter Conference which will be held November 30th through December 3rd at the Eastman Theater in Rochester, New York.

While completing his studies at Faith Christian Academy, Gilbert is also a student at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Program for classical Alto and Bari Saxophones. Jonathan also performs with the Hudson Valley Jazz Orchestra where he alternates as first chair Alto Sax. At this year’s New York Summer Music Festival Jonathan studied under Paul Cohen who is one of the most sought-after saxophonists for orchestral and chamber concerts in America.

“Jonathan Gilbert is by far one of the most talented and gifted students in my 40 years of high school and college teaching,” said Paul Cohen. “Jonathan's range and versatility is astonishing. From week to week we could have a saxophone, piano, composition or violin lesson, all revealing great depth, thought and accomplishment. Simple amazing; limitless potential.”


Excelsior Principal Kevin Rothman shares experiences with two students

Excelsior Academy students celebrate Ecuador trip and plan for Cambodia

NEWBURGH (October 10) - Students from Excelsior Academy at NFA – North recently celebrated their trip to Ecuador and began fundraising for their next opportunity in Cambodia. Excelsior Academy students are learning, volunteering, and traveling with Global to Local, a program that believes by immersing students in another culture to volunteer for positive social change, they will be better prepared to look critically at their own community and work to make it a better place. Global to Local is an award-winning global service-learning program at Excelsior Academy in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.  The program provides students with an opportunity to learn about an authentic community need in a foreign country, then use the knowledge, skills and dispositions gained during travel to act as Project Managers for a community impact project in our city of Newburgh. 

Leading up to their summer 2016 trip to Ecuador, students followed the timeline below to prepare for a meaningful experience during their trip, while also learning how the culmination of their experience can impact their hometown.

  • Year One (2014-15):  Students were invited to develop an understanding of community service through participation in and reflection upon local volunteer experiences.  At the end of year one, students were expected to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the issues facing their local community and present research on a self-selected issue.
  • Year Two (2015-16):   Students have continued local volunteer work.  During the summer, they corresponded virtually with educators traveling to Ecuador and Galapagos.
  • Year Three (2016-17):   All Excelsior students will fundraise to pay for student service-learning in Ecuador.  Students will continue local volunteer work, and interested students will apply for the international service-learning component of Global to Local.

Earlier in the day, sophomores received notice that they were accepted into the program and began their focus on Cambodia.


Bataclan and enthusiastic students

Artist Bren Bataclan visits Fostertown Elementary School to add a little love and a whole lot of smiles

TOWN OF NEWBURGH (October 4) - Fostertown 5th graders in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District had an awesome experience this past week painting this beautiful mural in their main hallway with help from nationally acclaimed Artist Bren Bataclan. Students celebrated their finished mural with an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Bren Bataclan travels the country gifting his artwork to strangers to make their day, with a targeted mission in mind. His mission: Leave his art around the country in random places for strangers to find, with the return promise that the recipient will smile more often.

Bren has gone worldwide with his project and he has begun to paint murals and exhibit his paintings across the country. Prior to painting full time, Bren taught computer graphics and design at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at the Boston Museum School. He also worked in a design think tank lab in Boston and was involved in the computer animation industry in California. Bren received his undergraduate degree in design from UCLA, Summa Cum Laude, and his graduate degree in computer animation from the Ohio State University. His work and his help this week at Fostertown Elementary School definitely embodies the Newburgh Enlarged City School District mantra this year of "Do It With Love".

Bren immediately bonded with the Fostertown 5th graders, having them each create their very own character to be included in their finished mural. Students looked fondly upon their completed creation and were so proud to be able to leave a lasting mark in their school building for future students to enjoy for years to come.


2016 Strengthening Families Program participants – family activity with
instructor Linda Coleman (in the yellow shirt)

Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County to offer Strengthening Families 

SLATE HILL (September 27) - There is still time to register for this fun, free program starting in October 2017. The Strengthening Families Program is for parents/caregivers and their pre-teens (currently attending grades 6th- 8th), who will attend together. Over the course of this 7-week series, parents/caregivers and youth will learn:

  • Ways to strengthen family communication
  • Why pre-teens/teens act the way they do
  • How to work through conflict together
  • How to avoid problems with alcohol and other drugs
  • How to respond to peer pressure
  • And so much more…

Research shows that the best prevention lies in the strength of family bonds, healthy relationships and education, which is just what this program provides: a unique and fun opportunity for parents and their pre-teens/teens to build upon their strengths, enhance relationships and communication skills, practice peer pressure resistance skills, and learn how to work through critical teen issues together.

The Strengthening Families Program is open to the public and will be taught by Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County, the Youth Bureau and the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) at the Minisink Valley Middle School. The series is free of charge to participants, thanks to generous funding through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. A light family meal is included, and childcare for younger children in the family is available. The program begins on Wednesday, October 4th and will be held weekly until November 13, from 5:45 – 8:30 pm. Participating families are expected to attend all sessions.

Julika von Stackelberg, Parenting Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension states “it is a true privilege to teach this program and see families grow closer as a result.” Since space is limited to ten families, immediate registration is recommended. For questions, or to register, please call 845-344-1234, or register online at


Aquinas Hall

Mount named top value added college by ‘MONEY’ Magazine

NEWBURGH (September 27) – Mount Saint Mary College was recently named a top college in MONEY Magazine’s “43 Colleges That Add the Most Value.”

MONEY, a sister publication of TIME magazine, created their rankings after analyzing 2,400 colleges across the U.S. The Mount earned 32nd place in “43 Colleges That Add the Most Value,” which grades colleges based on comparative-value for graduation rates, earnings, and student loan repayment.

According to a recent survey, 92 percent of Mount Saint Mary College graduates in 2016 were employed within six months of receiving their degree. MONEY’s list places a Mount grad’s “early career earnings” at an average of more than $52,000.

The success of Mount students is also represented in their ability to pay back loans that they have used to invest in their futures, reflected in a very low loan default rate of 4.6 percent. In addition, more than 97 percent of freshmen receive Mount scholarships and grants. In total, the college awards more than $20 million in scholarships and grants each year.

Mount Saint Mary College, located 60 miles north of New York City, is ranked a Top-Tier Regional University by U.S. News & World Report, and offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs preparing students for careers in healthcare, business, education, social services, communication/media, and more.

For more information, visit


Astorino reissues “ACE” challenge for 6th year   

WHITE PLAINS (September 27) - With the new school year underway, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino reissued his challenge to all Westchester County students in grades 6 through 12: Win a free season pass to Playland by earning high achievement in the classroom. Now in its sixth year, the Astorino Challenge in Education (ACE) has grown in participation each year of its existence.  The three ways to win the ACE challenge are ONE of the following:

  • Final G.P.A of at least 3.8, 95% or A average, or better (depending on school’s grading system)
  • Perfect attendance for the entire school year.
  • Improve grades a full grade point, letter or 10 percentage point improvement from the previous year’s final report card (Final 2nd year G.P.A must be at least a 2.0, 75% or C average).

“I’m so proud that the ACE challenge is in its sixth year,” said Astorino.   “The fact that it has grown every year is testament to the drive and commitment that so many of our young people have to succeed in the classroom which we all know is so important to opening up a lifetime of opportunities. The ACE challenge simply serves as a little extra motivation for our students and to let them know we’re behind them and want them to do their very best in the classroom.”

Interested students who want to take the challenge can go to and register.  To win the challenge, students will need to provide validation of their achievement from their school at the end of the school year. Children under the age of 18 must have permission from their parents to participate. The deadline to sign up is October 31st, 2017. 

The free season pass to Playland will be good from the date of issue in June 2018 until the end of the season in September 2018 and includes free admission to the park and unlimited rides.

The passes are made available through the Westchester County Youth Bureau.


RCC Connection Center offers SNAP application assistance for students

RAMAPO (September 27) - A partnership with Catholic Charities helps RCC students with need get assistance filing SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications right on campus. Through this semester, assistance will be provided each Thursday from 12-2pm on the Suffern campus, at RCC’s Haverstraw Center (Wednesdays 4-5pm) and the Herbert Kurz Automotive Center in Orangeburg (Tuesdays, 3-5pm).

Catholic Charities joins several other generous community organizations whose partnership helps supports RCC’s Connection Center in its mission to keep students enrolled and able to focus on their education even when thrown potentially devastating family, health or financial issues.

The RCC Connection Center opened in Fall 2016, supported by a SUNY grant and partnership with the United Way. Their confidential support services have been effective at stemming the rising tide of students forced to abandon their studies due to difficult life circumstances. RCC faculty member and coordinator for the Center, Joe Falco, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says, “The Connection Center embraces the opportunity to foster such a tremendous partnership with Catholic Charities. This collaborative effort is the newest example of how the Connection Center continues to be there for RCC students and families when life happens.”

See some of the Connection Center’s student testimonials and Community Partners.  Learn more about RCC’s Connection Center


Yoga4Classrooms trainers at CCE. Participating districts: Eldred, Fallsburg, Liberty,
Monticello and BOCES White Sulphur Springs

Extension offers Yoga4Classrooms training for local schools

LIBERTY (September 25) - Yoga4Classrooms uses mindfulness practices in the classroom to support students and teachers in behaviors that lead to a peaceful and engaged classroom environment. This is a multi-year program, spanning two academic years. With funding from the NYS Department of Health, Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County (CCESC) offered Phase I Yoga4Classrooms training for forty-two Sullivan County K-12 educators last school year.

CCESC and Sullivan Renaissance have partnered to offer advanced Yoga4Classrooms training this coming school year for Sullivan BOCES at White Sulphur Springs, Monticello Elementary and Middle Schools, and Fallsburg Elementary and High Schools.

“Teachers and students both benefit from the program,” said Jill Holland, occupational therapist of Sullivan BOCES at White Sulphur Springs. “Teachers have already been incorporating relaxation techniques and body movement as a way to help students stay calm and focused.”

With Sullivan County’s difficult health ratings, this is one approach schools and teachers can use in the classroom to encourage healthy behaviors.

“Yoga4Classrooms provides educators with no-cost tools to help improve student performance and reduce disciplinary issues”, said SueAnn Boyd, CCESC healthy schools program coordinator.

The public can learn more about this and other Healthy Schools and Communities programs, projects, and partnerships; or Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County by calling CCESC at 845-292-6180, emailing, or visiting





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