January 4, 2019

200 Presents Delivered to Van Duyn Elementary School

Picture of participants in front of donated gifts
Left to right are: Van Duyn Principal Eva Williams, Professor Patricia Isaac, SUNY Empire Central New York Regional Operations Coordinator Kate Colberg and Professor Donna Mahar.

Faculty and staff from the college’s Syracuse location donated more than 200 Christmas presents to the students of Van Duyn Elementary School on Thursday, Dec. 20.

More than 80 percent of Van Duyn students qualify for free lunch and the school is among those in the state’s “High Need, Large City” need resource category.

Students at Van Duyn strive to be “CHAMPS,” which stands for “Courageous, Hardworking, Achiever, Motivated, Persistent, Scholarly and Safe.”

Principal Eva Williams’ goal was to provide a gift for each of Van Duyn’s 470 students the Friday before Christmas.

Williams reached out to SUNY Empire State College Associate Professor Patricia Isaac as part of the school’s efforts to provide a toy for each student prior to Christmas.

“Van Duyn Elementary School is a village without walls and we are all a part of that village,” said Isaac.

Isaac, in turn, connected with Associate Professor Donna Mahar and Kate Colberg, the college’s Central New York regional operations coordinator.

Decorated donation boxes appeared, flyers were posted and emails alerted the college community to the opportunity to give a gift to a Van Duyn student.

Donations – toys, stuffed animals, books, coloring books, crayons and more – began to appear. At the end of the campaign, more than 200 gifts were collected.

“Education in the current era requires more than teaching children reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Williams. “Educators must be compassionate and willing to engage in the soft skills that no one teaches. I am thankful that the faculty and staff at SUNY Empire understand this and aligned themselves with our mission to gift our students for meeting – and often exceeding – CHAMPS expectations.”

The college and the school have collaborated in the past.

Most recently, Isaac and Mahar, members of the college’s School for Graduate Studies Education Programs, presented “Trauma and Literacy.” The presentation’s purpose was to improve academic achievement of Van Duyn’s students through enriching support for their teachers.

Further, the relationship between the college and Van Duyn exemplifies how the college’s faculty leverages their expertise for the benefit of the community, takes what they have learned from their scholarship and research, and enhances the curriculum for SUNY Empire’s students.

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