John Walko, Ph.D., Director
Dr. Walko is the director for the Academy for Character Education. He is a graduate of Colgate University and holds advanced degrees from the School of Public Affairs and School of Education at the University in Albany. Dr. Walko has for many years been an advocate for Character Education. He participated in the national Character Education Summits held on Capitol Hill and at the White House in the late 1990's. He has trained as a presenter with "Character Counts," "Character First" and "Building Development Assets in School Communities." Dr. Walko has taught at the college and high school level. He spent more than 30 years teaching in the East Greenbush School District system and served as chair of the East Greenbush District's Character Education Committee. Following his retirement, he expanded his interest in character education by founding the Character Development and Ethical Leadership Institute. He was named Director of the Academy for Character Education in January 2000. He has made presentations at workshops and conferences sponsored by schools, parent groups, community, national and international organizations.
Mel Horowitz, Leadership Board/Development Coordinator
Mel Horowitz is the associate director of the Academy for Character Education. He holds a B.A., and M.A. from the University at Albany. He is a retired teacher having served over 30 years in the Catskill and Schodack school districts. He has served as past president of the U.S.-China People's Friendship Association and the Rotary Club of Menands. He serves on the board of directors for the Capital District Council for the Social Studies. Also he is the recipient of the Neiderberger Award given to the Outstanding Social Studies educator in the Capital District. Mel has published articles on Social Studies, cooperative learning methodology and U.S. Chinese Relations.
Dr. Ellen Adams, Assistant Director
Dr. Ellen Adams is an adjunct professor for the Esteves School of Education of the Sage Colleges. She has a Masters Degree in Special Education from the Sage Colleges and a Ph.D. in Literacy from the University at Albany. She has a long history at Sage as a mentoring elementary school teacher and as both an adjunct and full time professor. In addition, Dr. Adams was a classroom teacher for thirty years at Mechanicville Elementary School, retiring in 2004. As a newly appointed Assistant Director of the Academy for Character Education at the Sage Colleges, she looks forward to working with the dedicated staff and administration of the Academy. She is proud to be a part of this organization and firmly believes that character education initiatives play a major role in creating productive and more tolerant learning environments where all students can and want to learn.
Dr. Philip Fusco, Associate/ NYSSOC Coordinator
Dr. Fusco has been an educator for 30 years as Social Studies teacher and building principal on the elementary, middle and high school levels. Dr. Fusco’s doctoral studies at Fordham University focused on organizational development. Dr. Fusco has pursued his commitment to character development while serving in schools and has expanded that commitment to community wide organizations.
Phil Catania, Associate
Phil Catania is Principal of Mount Rainier School, Prince George County, Maryland. His school was named a 2000 Model Peace School and 2001 National School of Character. Phil presents keynote addresses throughout the United States and is a National School of Character evaluator for the Character Educational Partnership.
Bruce Weiner is a School Psychologist at the Berlin Central School District. He is Co-Founder of the Berkshire Institute for Growth and Development. Bruce presents workshops on a variety of character development topics. He presents a fun, entertaining talk, helping adults to understand the importance of teaching virtues and character to children.
Carolyn (Kay) Bradley, B. S. M.S. Ed. S., has worked as a school counselor on the elementary, middle and high school levels for over 30 years. She currently is owner of CKB Consulting, LLC an educational consulting firm that specializes in building and promoting positive school climate. Her goal is to share her knowledge and help pass on the skills of community building and character development in any setting. She has been connected to the Academy for over 11 years including as the coordinator of the Youth Leadership Summit and a founding member of the NYS School of Character Application Review Team as well as serving on the Board of Directors for 10 years.
Bonnie Misch has been a leader in the Character Education Initiative for many years on the local, state and national level. Putting good character into action, she was the principal of the Millard Hawk Primary School of Central Square School District when it was awarded the National School of Character Award in 2006. She is very active in the character education movement, lending her energy and expertise to a wide range programs.
Currently, Bonnie serves on the Academy for Character Education’s Staff as the Coordinator of the Leadership Board. As a member of the Blue Ribbon State Schools of Character Award Selection Committee, she is involved in the process of the selection of the New York State and National School of Character. She has been a presenter at the annual Academy for Character Education Conferences and also at The National Character Education Partnership Conference. She is Assistant Coordinator for the New York State Schools of Character Selection Process and serves as a trainer for the Academy for Character Education. Bonnie’s dedication, enthusiasm, leadership, and service exemplify all that is cherished in the Character Education initiative.