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Falls group hosting welcome reception for new school program director

Niagara Gazette - 10/5/2022

Oct. 5—Men Standing Strong Together, a local grassroots organization, will host a reception and open house later this month to welcome James A. Riley and the Pathways to Excellence Program into the Niagara Falls School District.

The Pathways to Excellence program is designed to give children a second chance in life by offering a unique learning experience that focuses on shorter classroom times and smaller class sizes and promoting the concept of "the working student." The program aims to assist students who are facing diverse challenges such as food insecurity, homelessness and trauma whose needs are often unmet by the traditional classroom setting.

Riley, a Niagara Falls native who grew up in Griffon Manor and Unity Park, will serve as director of the program. A U.S. Army veteran who served in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, he earned his master's and graduate degrees in education while enrolled in the "Troops to Teachers" program. The father of five previously taught in a high school in Atlanta where he developed the Men of McNair program in response to gang activity, chronic truancy and other issues.

The Pathways to Excellence program's development in Niagara Falls has been supported by the school district's chief educational administrator Cheryl Vilardo as well as Peter Heuer, Robert Tasner, Phil Sembert, Bobby Daniels, Mia Crumpton, Michelle Hudson and Nicholas Ruffolo.

Men Standing Together will host the welcome reception and open house for Riley starting at 6 p.m.Oct. 7 at Harry F. Abate Elementary School, 1625 Lockport St., Niagara Falls. Parents and students are invited to attend, along with other members of the public. Light refreshments will be served. For additional information, call 716-285-2965.


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